Winter Consolation

People ask me sometimes, “How do you stand the cold?” or “Aren’t the winters long?” They look at me askance, wondering how I manage Maine winters. Or why I do.

To be honest, the hardest part of winter isn’t the cold, it’s the dark. In December twilight comes quickly. Walking the students out to the buses, the sky is already low on the horizon. Days seem to end before they begin. Later, you start wondering if it’s time for bed, since it’s been dark for hours, but then you realize it’s only 6:30 pm. And that’s if you’re lucky.

On the other hand, winter in Maine offers unique and meaningful consolation prizes for those willing and able to bundle up and get outside. Or simply when looking out the window.

In winter the beach has an entirely different feel. It’s vast, open and beautiful. There are typically a few hardy folk wandering and one or two joyous dogs, but mostly it’s a place removed. Somewhere to get away and lose yourself in broad swaths of sand and sky.

Or if you’re so inclined, you can visit the marshes where familiar grasses and serpentine waters are transformed into an alien world.

Winter sunrise brushes warm colors over a chilled landscape. It skates along the ice and highlights the shadows of leaf-bare tree limbs. Throw in the distant thread of a calling owl and there’s clearly magic in the air.

Keep an eye out, for winter is also the time when majestic snowy owls swoop in to visit from northern climes. These owls, used to long stretches of light in their northern homes, are often out and about in daylight hours. Ruffled elegance on a rooftop.

Bitter cold offers more enchantment. When the temperatures hover around zero, it’s time to visit the shore in search of sea smoke. Frigid air moves over warmer ocean water, forming tendrils of fog. If the winds are calm, the fog gathers, drifts, and swirls. Mesmerizing.

Winter ice storms glaze the world in ice. Summer’s left-overs become winter’s wonders.

Closer to home, on those bitterly cold days, blow bubbles and watch frost unfurl, transforming liquid bubbles to enchanted orbs.

Or check your windows, where cold kisses window panes and frost blossoms again into intricate patterns.

When the frost clears, look out the windows. With trees free of their autumn leaves, there’s so much more you can see. Birds gather, deer wander by and squirrels entertain with their endless antics.

Keep your eyes open.

Winter brings rich consolation prizes.

27 thoughts on “Winter Consolation

  1. WOW! For the last few weeks I have been reading nonfiction picture books during a Mock Sibert Award unit with my 6th graders. As I read your post, I felt like I was reading an award-worthy picture book about Maine. You should seriously think about submitting this to be published. Your descriptive language and visuals are awesome. Plus, I learved facts…I never knew there was such a thing as sea smoke. Your visuals are exquisite. You are my choice for a Sibert Sticker!! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beth Lyons says:

    Wow, I thought winter in Canada was beautiful but Maine just looks gorgeous. I grew up much closer to the Great Lakes than I live now and I miss the water in all seasons. The beach in winter is especially epic. Especially when the ice freezes over the smaller rivers and lakes nearby. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. humbleswede says:

    This is a feast for the eye and the ear. It could be a beautiful book. You should send it somewhere…but thanks for posting it here. Now I’m off for my morning twilight dog walk. My eyes will be open wider thanks to this.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh. My. Gosh. I am smitten with these images and your words. “Summer’s leftovers become winter’s wonders,” and this:
    “mostly it’s a place removed. Somewhere to get away and lose yourself in broad swaths of sand and sky.” This is stunningly beautiful.
    Maine is on my list. I visited Rockport, Massachusetts in October and had hoped to rent a car and drive up to Maine, but we didn’t have the time and rental cars were scarce. Now this post makes me want to return and see the beauty of Maine in winter (and summer, too). That owl is how I feel today – – kind of half-eyed and not quite ready to fluff my feathers and take off into the day in this Georgia cold. Lovely – really, really lovely post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks so much. Rockport is wonderfully picturesque! I hope you get a chance to visit Maine sometime. I never tire of the scenery here. I even have a beautiful commute to work!


  5. Tabatha says:

    Beautiful, Molly. Truly!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. amyilene says:

    Wow…your words and your images, paired together just right, to create a beautiful slice. My sister-in-law and her family live in Maine and it is truly a magical, stunning place. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lainie Levin says:

    The combination of words and images is absolutely breathtaking. (Almost as breathtaking as that first gulp of negative-degree air when it hits you!) The sensory imagery, and your brilliant use of personification throughout…it’s astounding. I’m marking this post to share with my students!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Joanne Toft says:

    Great photo’s – I love the winter water images. I have winter city pictures – I like your better!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Amanda Potts says:

    so so so so gorgeous. thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. kd0602 says:

    I can’t decide which is more beautiful, the photos or the words! I’m not sure I am equipped for Maine winters–but you have me longing for one!

    I love this description–it would make a wonderful picture book 2-page spread: “Winter sunrise brushes warm colors over a chilled landscape. It skates along the ice and highlights the shadows of leaf-bare tree limbs. Throw in the distant thread of a calling owl and there’s clearly magic in the air.”

    Thanks for taking me to Maine with your words and pictures and giving me an appreciation of winter.


    Liked by 1 person

  11. Fran Haley says:

    Molly: This needs to be a book. In a word: Stunning. The magic of nature, the enchantment of winter. I am in awe of that owl! And all the woodland creatures, in the snow. Pure poetica, too. “Unique and meaningful consolation prizes” – oh, indeed. What kind of camera do you use? I have been thinking I need to invest in a good one.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. margaretsmn says:

    I thought I had commented, but I don’t see it. These images are so inspiring. You know I agree with Fran about the book idea. I love how you appreciate so much about nature from the tiniest seed to the wondrous sunset. The world is your canvas.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Fabulous winter pictures. More for your coffee table book of Maine in Nature. They are especially appealing from California. How did your family fair with this latest storm? Check your phone for our Molly’s picnic table.

    Liked by 1 person

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