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The snow has been teasing us here this week. Mt. Washington has been aglow with winter for a bit now. Down here in the valley, we keep hearing forecast of snow, yet all we’ve seen here is a flake or two here and there.

Though each year I seem to complain a little more about the drop in temperatures, and feel the seasonal sadness of fewer hours of daylight a little more deeply, I also still feel that youthful spark of excitement jolt through me whenever I look out the window and see those first flakes falling. There is still that part of me that wants to run out and build a snowman, or throw a snowball or two. And until that’s possible, I guess I feel a little impatient as I gaze out at what at first glance can appear to be ugly and lifeless, or what looks to me like the tan brown animal of the world awaiting its winter coat.

And yet when I pause and really look, it’s quite stunning:

The yard still bears many shades of brown and green grasses. Curled fallen leaves rest quietly. Ground-feeding juncos flit around the gardens. Chickadees and nuthatches zip back and forth from feeder to tree. Chipmunks gather whatever they can carry in their overstuffed mouths. Pockets of frostbitten mud evidence recent rainfall. The bones of bare trees hold up a brilliant blue sky. Dark clouds carry with them the answer to a question: Rain or snow? The air even smells like snow – that sharp, colorless smell that every New Englander recognizes immediately. The shoulders of the road along our regular walking path have been hardening under our boots. The pond, pictured above, is starting to show the slightest signs around its edges of giving in to the freeze.

Don Henley, you’re right – there are just so many summers, and just so many springs. Those bright and beguiling seasons are certainly all that – and so is this strange time of year, if I wear enough layers and take a little more time to look a little more closely. The world is always beautiful, no matter the time of year.