I really love early winter, when trees are newly bare and you can see the skeletons of the hills, like the backbones of the planet, especially here in the foothills of the Smokies. Perhaps after the riot of fall and the bright lights of Christmas, the eyes enjoy a bit of rest on a more barren landscape ~ tree limbs slinking up into the cool blue sky, fields of resting brown earth like a soft blanket below.
It’s also a great opportunity to discover features that are hidden in leafier times ~ homes, barns, follies, cars on blocks, tumbledown outhouses and such ~ some of which definitely ‘show’ to better advantage behind a curtain of green, covering our warts. I’m seeing houses on hilltops that I never knew were there – how did they get up there??
In barren earth times, I imagine the struggles of the earliest settlers in the area, clearing rocky, forested land and gathering supplies to build that cabin far up in the valley or on the hilltop. On foggy mornings particularly, I try to imagine the lives of those who were here even before the Europeans ~ Cherokee, Catawba, Shawnee, Yuchi ~ how they lived in these hills and hollows. I wonder what the country sounded like before modern civilization took over ~ we sure make a lot of noise these days!
Just before Christmas we had a really lovely morning, and I sat on the porch in my green plastic Adirondack chair, the most comfortable chair on the planet, enjoying peace and warmth and silence. It was wonderfully quiet, so quiet that I could hear the amazing sound of the wind rising from the west and sweeping down the little valley in which the house is situated. A huge wind blew up, dropped a few branches from the big tree, and died down again as I sat there.
That was a great moment of imagining earlier peoples traveling through, what birds and other animals might have sounded like centuries ago right there in the valley, what plants were around. Later, much later, neighbor got out his Harley and spun around the cul-de-sac for an hour. Thanks for giving me that morning!
By the end of January, of course, I’ll already be watching closely ~ in vain ~ for the next budding. The beauty of bare earth only lasts me for so long before I want leaves again, and the changing of the seasons is one of the real joys of East Tennessee.
I have visited and enjoyed the dessert, and have visited and enjoyed southern California, where the weather never seems to change. Give me 12 months of weather and four seasons, please!
Hope you enjoy a barren winter day, and hold the immutable arrival of spring in your heart!
~Janet @ The Christmas Place