Extreme Makeover – Winter Edition

Ok, so winter has settled in, leaving in its trail a thick blanket of sparkly snow that I am pretty sure is going to stay for a while. And now that it is December, this snow is perfectly acceptable to most people around here. So on winter mornings, eyes on the thermostat I mill around the house in my ugly slippers, working on various projects and looking out the window all too frequently to see if I can spot those three blue jays that have been hanging around.

Do you see them? They are in that tree, all three. And they won't let me get any closer than this, no matter how slowly and quietly I sneak.

Oh, this weather makes me feel pretty damn cozy, and apparently turns me into a bird watcher…

Last night and this morning a fog settled in and it has created the most beautiful and interesting glaze on anything it can cling to: tree branches, fences and the backs of beasts milling around the landscape, pawing at the frozen earth looking for another bite. The sneaky frost makes you see things you haven’t seen before, like this horsehair on the barbed wire fence I noticed when I came home from work last night:

Isn’t it spectacular?

Anyway, so here I am, 30 miles from the nearest town, alone with my thoughts in this cozy house with no milk and a freezer full of frozen apple pies (husband got a hold of the Schwan’s man …I guess there was a special).

Yup. And I actually thought I had a chance of getting out of the yard today, until I actually tried. After about five solid straight hours of snowfall I quickly realized that nobody needs milk THIS bad. I’ll drink diet coke thanks very much. That’s just fine with me, really.

A similar thing happened on Tuesday. Tuesday I was stuck here with the apple pies because my car would not make it up the hill and around the curve where the snow had drifted in over a nice layer of ice –precisely the location where I slipped and acquired a big purple bruise on my right knee the other day. And unless I strapped on the snowshoes I do not own (yet) and took the trek on foot, home is where I would remain.

But thank goodness for tractors and people that know how to use them, cause as soon as the sun went down, I was dug out. Free! Just in time to make some soup and go to bed.

And I didn’t mind at all.

Because as much as I could curse the snow and all of the annoying inconveniences it brings with it, like hat head and the necessity of ice scrapers, I love it.

I love it because it looks like this in the  morning…

…and this in the evening…

…and this when the sun shines….

…and this on my snowsuit….

I love it. And I don’t even own a snowmobile. Or skis. Or snowshoes! I do have a sled however, but I think I already told you that…

Yup, I said it. I love it despite my very limited collection of snow toys.

Anyway, maybe you have to have been born where the palm trees don’t grow to understand, but I have always been captivated by winter’s form of precipitation. I have been charmed by the way it falls so gracefully and quietly from the sky and gives the entire world an extreme makeover. It’s really good at makeovers, turning everything a different shade of gray and white and black and creating such drama, casting long shadows that catch us off guard in the middle of the day.

On the ground where cactus and thorns once grew, the topography is now transformed, soft, radiant and inviting, covering up our summer paths so we must begin again creating a landscape where we are never lost and can’t get away with anything because every move leaves a trail, evidence of where we have been.

And I love it when the flakes pile up and, with the help of the wind, they morph themselves  into  sculpted masterpieces, drifts resembling ocean waves…

…or small mountain peaks

…then mini-avalanches…

And when the sun shines, out comes the glitter and our houses look like they’re covered in sugar with frosting settled on our roofs and in our windowsills and the delicious, sugary icicles hanging from the eaves makes us want to stick out our tongues, or flop down on the ground, or jump and scream just to shatter something, to move something, to break the spooky silence the frost creates.

It sends us bright blue hats and fluffy sweaters and turns our skin from pale to bright red and back again.  It makes us hungry for spices and warm liquids and dishes that boil and simmer and slide down our throats.

It makes us turn on the oven and make things from scratch that smell like cinnamon and butter. (Well, maybe some people do this…I think I’ll just take out one of those pies…)

So we move in close and then the season surprises us with its sudden darkness and reminds us that we don’t have control. And if we were thinking we were prepared, we most certainly are not.

Because no winter has been the same.  No winter has created the same drifts, the same shadows, the same snowflakes and banks.

And no winter will be the same again.

So we close our eyes, snuggle down tight and our memories of a landscape so green and bright and baking, when we were rowdy and brown and sweaty and half-naked remind us of a foreign land, so far away.

Then we wake to find, socked in from the storm, our bodies softer, slower, more fair and crisp and realize that we too have been transformed. So we slide on our boots and pull our caps over our ears and go out to discover an entirely different world—showing off in his brand new, fabulous outfit.

And because I, like most girls, am a big fan of makeovers, I present to you North Dakota’s winter makeover–before and after:







Maybe not a Ty Pennington improvement, but beautiful in a completely different way.
Like me in my ski mask.
Enjoy your frost covered weekend!

24 thoughts on “Extreme Makeover – Winter Edition

  1. This is way better than Ty Pennington–way, way more wonderful!

    Where I blog from here in Haiti, these are just the kinds of scenes that make me think of Christmas back home in Kenctucky–cozying in front of the fire with a perfect cup of tea.

    Happy Holidays from here in Port-au-Prince to you in your winter wonder-land!

  2. Gorgeous photos. I detest the cold, but love the snow and the way it transforms the simplest of things into objects of complete beauty and wonder. You captured it magnificently.

    Cheers to winter.


  3. With a telephoto lens, maybe you can get a shot of those blue jays. They only appear here in the fall, and squawk, hidden from prying eyes. I love the bluejays. Your farm pictures are beautiful, especially the one of the barn with the flowers. As always, a delightful way to cheer up a gloomy day–here. K

  4. Oooh, beautiful pics! Such gorgeous snowfall – we just don’t get the pretty snow like you all do out west. Here it just seems to get brown and crusty, not at all like that pretty fluffy stuff you see in your lovely photos!!

  5. As I sit here b4 reading your blog in my big apt. on the prairie(aka. Fargo), I chillaxed a little as I see your beautiful pics w/ the birds and the sunrise. Now if I had that all winter, it may not be so bad. I was thinking a pair of snowshoes or cross country skies would be a great form of exercise. Yea, I have a gym membership but I have only used it once. Maybe if I saw you in snowshoes, I would get the energy to get to the gym..lol. Uff’da. Hugs and enjoy the beauty of your surroundings. Nicole

  6. I love your entry on today’s blog. It makes me wish I was out at my dad’s farm, making the rounds today with the snow falling. And snowshoes are a good choice. I used to cross country ski on the prairie, but ever since I got snow shoes, I don’t bring out the skis anymore. With snow shoes, you can walk across rocks, sticks and ground not covered with snow, and do minimal, if any damage to them. And snow shoes don’t need waxing, like cross country skis do (that is, if you have waxable cross country skis). There are different kinds of snowshoes, but I have found that I really like a certain type (MSR lightning ascent – i.e. the grip). They are made so that when I see a hill, I pick out the steepest part (because of who I am) and I can go straight up without slipping (unlike my other snow shoes which often result in me doing a strange looking dance, when fortunately, my only audience is a pack of coyotes). Oh, and the greatest aspect of owning snow shoes, and enjoying their use, is that you actually look forward to snow each winter and getting out in it. It turns into a big positive. And positive is good!

    • Hey, thanks so much for the tips on the snowshoes! I love hiking around the place and snowshoes, with the amount of snow we have out here (major, surprising drifts in some places) will make it so much easier.

      So glad you stopped in. Love your site. Your photos are amazing!

  7. I don’t know which is more beautiful, the pictures or the prose. What a lovley gift on a cold night. Thank you Jesse.

  8. I am a friend of Cassie Plienis. She recommended your blog about the cats (as I have cat, although still young and forming their bad habits as I type…). I’ve been reading your various posts and enjoying your pictures.

    Thank you for sharing! You bring a smile to my Saturday! God bless you and your talents. Again, thank you for sharing your perspectives, charm, and talents with us all.


  9. A friend of mine forwarded your blog and I’ve really enjoyed reading it. Looking at your extreme makeover post is making me appreciate the beauty of the prairies even in the middle of a blizzard! Thank you for the reminder that some of the best things in life are in our own backyard.

    • Thanks for stopping by swanlzs. The middle of winter is the hardest month to appreciate, but really, it is so beautiful all snow covered and crisp and white out here, and I’ve got a warm house and four wheel drive, so I can’t complain 🙂 Stay warm out there!

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