If you live in the Northeast, and do not want to hide indoors for five months every year, you need to find a way to embrace winter. One way I've discovered to enjoy winter walks is to strap on snow shoes and walk the same trails I love in the summer, spring and fall. There is a crisp purity to the air in winter and the light has a brilliant cast.
This painting is from a favorite walk in Wolfe's Neck State Park, near Freeport, Maine. My snow shoes are not the beautiful basket-weave tennis racket looking shoes of my grandparents' era. These are high tech, and have a steel claw that digs into the snow as I lean into them. With that traction, I can climb up or down hills much more easily. I love filling a thermos with hot coffee, packing a lunch, and climbing to some incomparable viewpoint where friends and I can have a lunch and tell ourselves how lucky we are to live in Maine. (And congratulate ourselves for taking part in a winter adventure.)
One of my favorite memories of a winter walk was of climbing up Mt. Battie. My husband and I hiked the back side of the mountain, wandering through a quiet snowfall as we followed the blazed trail to the top of the mountain. When we got to the top, we realized that the hill had blocked some blizzard-level winds. We came out of the woods and walked against the wind, at an angle, working our way to an overlook of Camden Harbor. Below, in the summer, a sheltered and beautiful harbor bobs with windjammers and smaller boats. There is a display of the many islands that spread out into the sea, each labeled and named. We could not see more than a few feet, and laughed into the wind as we cleared our ski goggles and thought about what we could not see. We had to shout to hear each other. Then we turned around and walked back to the trailhead.
As we headed into the woods, it was instantly quiet again. We could take our time finding our way back to the end of the trail. The contrast of raging wind and silent woods was striking. It makes me think about trying to find a way out of the noise of my everyday life now and then, to hear myself think - and to hear those whose voice might otherwise be hard to hear. At least, that is what I think of now. At the time I was just struck by the beauty of the calm after the storm, and was grateful for warm clothes and snow shoes. And hot coffee.