flowers snow

Flowers emerge from a late spring snow in Sheridan. When emerging out of winter hibernation, take time to tune up the senses.

Just as cabin fever clutched the last bit of patience with subzero temperatures and reduced daylight hours, the red line on the thermometer climbed up over the freezing mark and stayed.

Unless inclined to venture out to feed cattle, gear up for daily outside work or head to the slopes to snowboard, many of us are content to hunker down during the winter months. While the pandemic may have altered familiar winter routines, the promise of warmer temps turns attention outdoors. With a random pattern of fresh snowfall, followed by what seems like almost balmy days, snow melt gives way to mud in time for another batch of cold and white.

Along with March as unofficially the season of mud another force is at work. Have you noticed recently how radiant the Bighorns are? Illuminated well into the afternoon, these magnificent natural forms stretch out and dominate the views to the west. The light quality on the snow patches, forest sections and granite is extraordinary. Small wonder early explorers and artists from sun-starved winter skies back east were so in awe of western climes.

And how about when you go out to refill the bird feeder in the early morning, have you ever noticed snowflakes scattered and seemingly suspended on top of last night’s fresh fallen snow? Next time, bend over and give them more than a glance. Be careful. A 19th century Vermont farmer’s winter past time became his passion as he recorded over 5,000 snowflakes on photographic glass plates during a 46-year period.

What about those infrequent cloud covered days when the overwhelming sameness of the sky matched the whiteness of the snow consumed landscape? Poof! No horizon lines. Gone! Our vision perceives a flat canvas as each rock, tree, snow fence or outbuilding appears composed upon a white canvas.

When emerging out of winter hibernation, take time to tune up the senses. While creativity and artistic ability may seem to be doled out in different amounts with no call for equity, the senses may be developed to fine tune an appreciation of the surrounding environment.

The sound of the first peepers in spring engage memory and revitalize emotion. The smell of rain on earth warm enough to emit a rich fragrance is pleasurable after months of noses too cold to experience anything but dripping. A tiny colored blossom poking out against snowy surroundings earns a pause at its diligence and fragile beauty. The soothing caress of sun flooding the back porch as it warms a path across outstretched legs and folded arms brings reflection and a welcomed pause in activity.

Observation. Pause. Reflection. Drinking in sensations to feed the spirit. Absorbing familiar experiences in new ways and approaches enriches an understanding of the world. A sensitivity reserved for artists? A human sensitivity? I guarantee you that in a few weeks we all will be daily straining our eyes to seek out the first hints of green across the foothills and celebrate the emerging season. Goodbye mud and welcome garden, robins and sandals.

Mary Jane Edwards is executive director of Jentel Foundation. 

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