Gathering for Winter

Today’s post comes from littlejailbird.

Fifty years ago, an author/illustrator named Leo Lionni had a picture book published, titled Frederick. A field mouse,  Frederick is part of a family who is preparing for winter. Everyone gathers corn and nuts and wheat and straw – that is, everyone except Frederick. Frederick prepares for winter in a different way. He gathers three things for winter: sun rays, words, and colors.

I live on a city street that seems especially bleak in the winter. Most of the houses are shades of tan,beige, or gray. Snow is pretty, but a few days after it falls, it is an ugly gray, getting darker as the winter wears on, until it is charcoal-colored. Most of the boulevard trees are oak trees and the leaves that cling to the branches are a dull brown.

It is then that I wish for the third thing that Frederick gathered for winter: Color.

While the other mice are working at storing up food for the winter, Frederick stares at the meadow. When the other mice inquire what he is doing, he replies that he is gathering colors because winter is gray.

One day last November, I was already feeling the lack of color. It was a gray day after many gray days and I went in search of color and patterns outside. I found what I was looking for and I am trying to keep those colors stored up inside me for when I especially need them.

Do you do anything to make winter a happy season?

34 thoughts on “Gathering for Winter”

  1. Wonderful slide show, ljb! Thanks for this.

    I well remember the Frederick book. This year I’ve been gathering “Things to do”, and have found so many as to start weeding these out. Film society, game nights, chous, book clubs, and since the election, groups to join to help keep our communities safe. There is no end to things popping up to do, and every place is easy to get to, easy to find parking… I AM looking forward to being able to bike again.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m glad you are tucking back into Winona so well, BiR. It seems you are integrating into the place physically and socially. People often talk about all the attractive features of cities. What they usually fail to mention is the importance of accessibility . . . what you note as how “every place is easy to get to.” That’s so important.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    Edith, are these your photos? They are so beautiful and the photographer’s eye looks like the photos you referred us to that were yours.

    I come from that farm tradition in which one gathers and preserved food for the winter. When my Grandmother ran her farmhouse and larder on the farm, this was survival for the family. Survival is not the issue anymore. Now there are ways to have food all winter. However, food quality is the issue.

    So in my Grandmother’s tradition I make jams and jellies:

    Wild grape
    raspberry-chili pepper
    hot pepper

    I also can tomatoes and tomato soup.

    Some of this I give away at Christmas or on other occasions. Some of this we eat in the winter, ala Greg Brown’s song “Summer in a Jar.” We hauled some of this with us to Phoenix this year. Despite the warmer climate, it tasted good there, too.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yes, as Steve said, they are my photos, Jacque. They were all (except for the header photo) taken on the day that I referred to above, at the quaking bog and across the road at Birch Pond. And thanks for the compliment! I like showing others what I find beautiful.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, the ticks were dead the day I took these.

        Also, today at Fort Snelling State Park, I may have been in danger from ice on the trail, but no danger from ticks.


  3. This blog spotlights how wonderful color is to someone who has lived without much of it in winter. Our family’s first visit to the Pacific Northwest in late winter/early spring shocked me. Coming from Minnesota where winter is both long and hard, I had been living without smells and sounds. It was oddly wonderful to be outside hearing birds and smelling the first stirrings of life.

    When we lived in Saint Paul one of the ways we escaped the deprivations of winter was to visit the Conservatory in Como Park. Which was very easy to get to.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. As you know, Steve, my youngest daughter is in college in Seattle. When she was trying to decide which college to go to, she was able to visit there on a prospective students weekend or some such thing (the school paid for half her airfare). This was in February or March. She was totally amazed at how GREEN it was and came back with a sparkle in her eye, telling me how beautiful it was there. I’m sure that experience (going from Minnesota at the tail end of winter to the Pacific Northwest where it is always green and alive) had a big impact on her decision to go there.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m sure you are right. The tail of winter in the Northwest sure beats the MN experience at that time. In addition to the “sparkle in the eye” there is the twitch in the nose and the tickle in the ear!


  4. When I could still use my hands, I did pastels. But I usually painted with the season. So I painted mostly winter scenes. The fun part was to add color to winter. Not expressionism, but more realistic pushing of color, which made me see more color out in the snow and shadows and trees and sky and such.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Different, maybe, not necessarily better. Some of your paintings hit me deeply. So when I say that I like them, I don’t say it lightly.


  5. Be sure to click a photo and then you can see them in a larger format and click through the series like a slideshow.

    This new blog is kind of scary. I see I have an Edit button for not only my comments and the original post, but for everyone else’s comments. Such power!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We feed birds, which adds some color to the landscape. Today we had slate blue-white breasted Nuthatches, vying for suet with their smaller, red breasted nuthatch cronies. The gold finches are just starting to get a little yellow, and there was a cheery Red Poll with his red cap the other day.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Ever since I was the height of a dog I’ve been thrilled to be outdoors. That’s pretty much in my past, which makes my bird feeder such a delight these days. It helps that the birds here are almost all new species to me. Examples include two lovely birds, the varied thrush and the scrub jay. I was amazed to learn that hummingbirds sometimes stay this far north in winter. It is a joy to simply see the scurry and flicker of life as birds mob my feeders.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Help! Can someone tell me who the author is of “Nightingale”, one of the selections for April’s BBC? Thank you.


  8. Afternoon all. Dreadful day at work with all kinds of technology issues, so I came home a bit early to enjoy the Trail. Edith – wonderful wonderful photos.

    I love winter but I don’t think I really get ready for it… in fact I’m usually playing catch up. I always wait too long to bring my winter clothes down from the attic, brush out the coats, put the various gloves in the “glove basket” in the breakfast room.


    1. Thanks, Dale. November colors are muted, but look pretty bright compared to the gray winter days we’ve been having here lately. I went to Fort Snelling State Park today – not a lot of color, but the sky was blue (!) and the sun shining on the water was bright and beautiful. And I didn’t need my handwarmer today.


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