by Crystal Cockman

December 26, 2017

We had our first snow of the year on Friday December 8th. We’ve had an unseasonably warm fall so far, and I was thankfully able to get a lot of my fieldwork done before it turned cold. We’ve also had a pretty dry fall, so rain hasn’t put a damper on being outdoors either. The combination of cold and wet resulting in winter precipitation is not typically something I look forward to each year.

I went with my niece to see Disney on Ice, and her favorite part of the show was the part based on the movie Frozen. In this story, there’s a princess who becomes queen and she has cryokinetic magical powers, meaning she can turn things into ice. This is based on a novel by Hans Christian Anderson called The Snow Queen. It also reminded me of C.S. Lewis’ popular book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. In both stories, a female character has suspended the land in a perpetual state of winter. And in both stories, after heroic acts, this spell is broken and warmer weather is allowed to come.

It’s nice living somewhere with seasons that change. I wouldn’t want to live somewhere that has winter virtually all year round, but I also don’t think I’d like living somewhere that’s always hot either. I enjoy spring when the wildflowers start blooming again – spotting trout lilies on hikes along creeks, and looking at the mountain laurel in bloom from a kayak. I also enjoy fall when the leaves change color, purple asters and yellow goldenrods put on a show, and deer season begins.

One reason I don’t typically like winter is that on my 18th birthday we got 20+ inches of snow, January 25, 2000. I didn’t particularly enjoy being snowed in for a week with no power or water, and no way to get to see friends. Fortunately one of my best friends lived nearby, and we were able to salvage the day playing in the snow and enjoying each other’s company. Since then, I’ve softened to winter weather, and agree that there are some good things about winter, as well.

The leaves are off the trees, which make for some great views through forested landscapes. One of my favorite winter hikes is to the top of Dark Mountain and along its ridgeline. The leaves off the trees present you with a scenic view of the surrounding Uwharrie Mountains. Hiking in the winter you also don’t have to deal with the humidity of summertime jaunts through the woods. And some critters, such as snakes and bugs, are pleasantly absent from wintertime walks. Snow outlining trees, and ice over crystal clear streams can be pretty sights, as well.

I’ve never been skiing or snowboarding, but I imagine those would be fun ways to spend your time in winter weather. I have been sledding with friends and relatives before, and that’s always a great time outside. Building snowmen and having snowball fights, and making snow cream, are also fond memories of winters of seasons past. However you like to spend your time in the winter, don’t be afraid to bundle up and head outside. Like myself, you may find yourself enjoying the season after all.