While I linger here and listen to the crackling boughs above,
Hung with icicles that glisten as if kindling into love,
Human heart and soul unite with your majesty and might.
In the Winter Woods, Frederick George Scott
Cabin Among the Pines
When you live in Minnesota, Christmastime marks a wonderment of winter beauty. Our snow covered woods, icy lakes, and warm cabins are a retreat for stressful times to refresh and rejuvenate.
I look forward to winters here more than any other season. Our small cabin in the woods nestles itself nicely among the pines in winter, offering a cozy refuge especially during a turbulent year. Inside, there is the magic of seasonal traditions – decorating a fresh Christmas tree, a guitar strumming Christmas songs, baking delicious cookies, sipping hot cocoa & eggnog, and curling up for Christmas movie marathons. Sounds of Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby fill up the cabin to keep the spirit of Christmas alive all December long.
The Deep Woods
Our state forests are pure in the winter. One would think the monochromatic palette would get old after a while, but instead the glistening white against the dark emerald green pines is renewing. The only tracks to be followed are those of its inhabitants like that of moose, wolf, lynx, fox, deer, rabbits, grouse, otter, or mink. Each track tells a story of where they’ve been and where they are going. The otters leave behind their slip and slide maneuvers through the forest, while the big moose’s slow heavy steps dig down deep into the snowbanks. It’s the magical treks through the wilderness that always leaves the visitor wanting more winter days.
High in the pines, the wind sends out a soft whooshing call as its branches bend back and forth dusting off the previous snowfall. Whatever your preference – hike, ski, or snowshoe, these woods are made for reflection and perspective. Here, things are simple and serene. Perhaps things that we’ve needed after this long, long year.
After a busy day, I gather up the ski gear, headlamp, and a thermos of hot cocoa and wander into the forest to ski under the moonlight. It’s a peaceful time gliding over the curves of the trail with nowhere to be, leaving the details of the day behind me.
Ghosts of the Forest
Here in the wilderness another secret comes out during the winter months. The owl’s migration south makes Minnesota a temporary home for them, but one of the finest times to capture them in their element with frosty backdrops. The Great Gray Owl is most notably the world’s largest species of owls by length, but only weighing in at 2.5 lbs!
The owl glides from tree to tree in silence, wings perfectly shaped to dive bomb prey deep under the snow undetected. And there, high in the boreal forest, blending into the tree bark it sits and patiently waits. Over the years I’ve come to love winter as I wait in anticipation to get a chance to watch (and photograph) the Great Gray Owl. It embodies the quiet gentle nature of winter and they are beautiful to watch if only for a brief moment.
Ribbons of Light
Though the Northern Lights can potentially be seen throughout the year, they are typically more viewable in the heart of winter months. In the upper reaches of Minnesota where city lights are scarce and the days are shorter, the aurora borealis comes out to dance in mesmerizing colors of green, yellow, purple, and red. This show can go on for hours and can be seen as pillars, swirling curtains, or domes of color. For those lucky enough to witness this magical phenomenon, winter can soon become a favorite time to get outdoors and be entertained by them.
The Spirit of Winter
Minnesota is so fortunate to have such a vast open wilderness to explore and enjoy. Take your pick among hundreds of snowshoeing, skiing, snowmobiling, and fat tire bike trails or thousands of lakes to skate or ice-fish. Either way, winter in Minnesota is a playground to take advantage of. I cannot think of a better way to spend Christmas than getting outside and into the wilderness.
Our team here would like to wish you and yours a very festive, safe, and wonderful holiday season! May you find joy in what you already possess and may you have the chance to spend it with family and friends…and maybe a bit of time exploring our wilderness as we have. From all of us at 8bitstudio, we’d like to share some highlights of home, a true Minnesota winter wonderland. Merry Christmas!