Pileated woodpecker holes drilled deep into the trunk of a cedar. Dee Menear/Franklin Journal Buy this Photo

It used to be I was no fan of winter. I thought it was a great time to be bear-like and hibernate under a pile of fuzzy blankets.

The whitewashed scenery was boring and snow was only good for skiers and snowmobilers. I don’t ski and really only enjoy snowmobiling on warmer days.

I loudly protested the weather to anyone who would listen and I counted down the days until spring.

Nearly a decade ago I had a conversation with a friend about a particularly long brutal weather. My opinion of the cold and ice that surrounded me was clear.

“If you are so opposed to it, why do you live here,” Tim asked?

I told him the reason was simple. The other seasons are perfect.

“So is winter. You just have to find your joy,” he said.

I remember the eye-opening conversation clearly. What I took away from it was that happiness couldn’t be found at the end of a countdown and not everything had to be perfect to find this thing he called joy.

I’ve slowly learned to enjoy and even embrace winter. Yes, there are times when the dreariness of it truly drags on. There is nothing fun about sub-zero temperatures, traveling icy roads or moving mounds of snow.  But, if you think about it, those things really make up so little of the season.

I still enjoy burying myself under a pile of blankets in front of a woodstove but there is so much more to do. The busier I am, it seems, the quicker the season goes.

I really enjoy snowshoeing and, due to a serious lack of snow cover, it’s something I haven’t been able to experience this season.

Up until recently, I could blaze a trail in my winter boots. I’ve been eager to strap on my snowshoes and was thankful when I finally had the chance.

With my boots locked into my snowshoes, I headed out into the woods to explore new territory I’ve been offered by a landowner. The only sound in the woods that day was the crunch of the icy snow as the claws of my snowshoes dug in.

The intricate textures of nature make for a fascinating study. Dee Menear/Franklin Journal

This parcel of land is home to a diverse population: deer, moose, rabbit and coyote. I wasn’t there that day to impede on their habitat. I was there to discover, and discover I did.

I steered clear of heavily traveled game trails but found it was nearly impossible to avoid crossing tracks. I found a set of unfamiliar tracks that eventually led to a lesson from a seasoned woodsman. I inspected fresh holes drilled deep into a cedar by a pileated woodpecker. I marveled at the intricate texture of mosses on tree trunks.

My tracks were the only human tracks in the woods. I was alone and it was fabulous.

I wandered, and wondered at the white world around me. I stopped in a clearing, the sun shining brightly overhead. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and let the sun’s warmth wash over me.

Then I heard the snort. I didn’t have to open my eyes to know what made the sound. The doe spotted me long before I knew she was there. She made herself known and by the time I caught sight of her, she was nothing but a white tail darting off through the trees.

I stood in the clearing a moment longer before checking my compass and positioning myself on a track back to my vehicle. As I slowly made my way out of the woods, I thanked my friend for suggesting there was joy to be found in the winter.

Comments are not available on this story.