The stillness of the solemn air

After a fairly mild month, winter firmly socked in here in the Rockies with temperatures settling about -15°C (5°F). And, though we are on the “positive” side of winter — with days getting longer instead of shorter — it still sometimes feels like winter is the longest season of all.

LINDA COTE-Winter WalkI have to admit to loving this season. I long ago learned that to live through winter you need to embrace it in all its glory. I live for the incredible smell of wood smoke that makes one think of hibernation, and short bursts of outdoor activities that flush your cheeks.

Winter is also a favorite time for a lonely walk. Getting away from the weekend throngs on the ski hill, or the crowds on the pond out for a skate, a winter walk on a cold day will almost guarantee you will be blissfully alone.

Walking in winter reminds me of this gorgeous poem by British poet Robert Bridges “London Snow” written in 1890. Although it was written more than 100 years ago, the hushing effect of an overnight snow still rings true today.

I thought I would share a portion of the poem (the full poem can be found here) along with winter photographs I’ve taken on some of my winter walks.

London Snow (excerpt)

When men were all asleep the snow came flying,
In large white flakes falling on the city brown,
Stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying,
Hushing the latest traffic of the drowsy town;
Deadening, muffling, stifling its murmurs failing;
Lazily and incessantly floating down and down:
Silently sifting and veiling road, roof and railing;
Hiding difference, making unevenness even,
Into angles and crevices softly drifting and sailing.
All night it fell, and when full inches seven
It lay in the depth of its uncompacted lightness,
The clouds blew off from a high and frosty heaven;
And all woke earlier for the unaccustomed brightness
Of the winter dawning, the strange unheavenly glare:
The eye marveled — marveled at the dazzling whiteness;
The ear hearkened to the stillness of the solemn air;
No sound of wheel rumbling nor of foot falling,
And the busy morning cries came thin and spare…

– Robert Bridges

LINDA COTE-Winter walk 1

One of my most favorite winter walks when I lived in Calgary was along the Bow River. The ice would freeze from shore-to-shore in some of the more narrow spots, and a peaceful walk was guaranteed.

LINDA COTE-Winter walk 4

The rail line next to the river always brought that fantastic eerie whistle through the forest, and the stunning color of the train against a dull background.

LINDA COTE-Winter walk 3

Though winter whites abound, there is always much color to be found in the details at your feet.

LINDA COTE-Winter walk

The brown grasses peaking out among the shoreline of the river holds the promise of spring.

LINDA COTE-Calgary street

The winter trees along a city street create beautiful patterns in the sky. I can almost imagine myself in a fairy tale.

LINDA COTE-Mountain Ash

A majestic mountain ash tree keeps its bright red berries for most of the winter and provides the neighborhood birds with a bit of food through the coldest months.

LINDA COTE-Canmore Bow River

The sun rises over the Bow River in Canmore, a magical time to take a walk.

LINDA COTE-Mountain Snow

The weight of a late-season snowfall makes the whole landscape look surreal. Even the surrounding peaks are shrouded in mystery.

LINDA COTE-Mountain WalkWalks along Cougar Creek in Canmore are popular for people and dogs alike, in any kind of weather. The view of the Three Sisters mountain is at its most stunning during the winter, when its peaks are snow-covered.

With a view like this just around the corner from my home, who could  stay inside?

4 responses to “The stillness of the solemn air

  1. What a lovely and beautiful winter tour Linda, it looks magnificent where you are. I agree with you, I love the smell of wood smoke but also that winter does seem a bit too long 🙂

    • Thanks Mike! I always find myself day-dreaming about going somewhere warmer in February, after many winter months. But, then spring is around the corner! I enjoy the lovely photos on your blog as well. Not as much snow but a beautiful part of the world, too!

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