‘s paradise.

I have relatives who live in Hawaii. They love to send Christmas cards of themselves in swimsuits, drinking umbrella cocktails on perfect white sand beaches. Every year.

That’s nice. I’m glad they’re happy. But I have a secret: as much as they feel smug about dodging winter with their year-round Hawaiian condo, I am more than happy to let them have it so I can remain in the minority and happily soak up wintertime like they absorb UV rays.

I wouldn’t trade living in a Northern climate for anything – except, maybe, a MORE Northern climate. I can walk out the front door of my house in the middle of a winter day and hear NOTHING. The low winter sun creates stunning sunsets of pink, orange, and violet reflected in a swirl of shifting shadows on the deep drifts of blue snow. Ever snowshoe by full moonlight in a crystalline world of indigo and black silhouettes?

You haven’t seen anything in your life until you’ve experienced the Northern lights, dancing in its wardrobe of shimmering, luminous green veils – or radiating, pulsating, infusing the whole sky with crackling color. It’s magnetic, it’s magic, it’s a gift from nature.

In the wintertime, the landscape comes alive with the evidence of visitors whose daily doings are invisible at other times of the year: raccoons, snowshoe rabbits, red and grey squirrels, owls, deer, moose, mice, and lots of birds. They leave their tracks and often improbably looping trails in the snow as a gentle reminder that there is a whole world of quiet life happening around us. Woolly porcupines scoop out telltale long, deep trenches that purposefully link their burrows to water sources. Occasionally one encounters large, deep hollows in the shelter beneath trees – someone’s bed, the previous night.

There are times when the air is so cold it seems to reach right down into your throat and sieze your lungs by their roots – makes you feel alive! And happy to be.

I could go on. I won’t, at least not now. I’ll let a few pictures take over from here. These are shots you won’t find on Christmas cards coming from relatives in Hawaii. And remember, this is just between us. If those Hawaiian implants begin to understand the intense, unique beauty of winter they just may change their minds and come back. They would be very cold in their swimsuits.

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