Winter Beauty

Since this year we have the winter that keeps on giving (I actually say that genuinely since I absolutely love winter!), I figured I would share some photos I’ve taken along the cold, snowy way. Make sure to click on the photos to see the slideshows!

During the snowfall it may be overcast, but the beauty is nonetheless apparent:

The day after the snow falls is often a spectacular day – crisp blue sky, golden sunshine and a breathtaking world of glistening diamonds:

And finally a little bit of sunset snow:

Here’s a little extra for a fun comparison:

Since we just got a fresh snowfall again yesterday and we also have some pretty impressive ice formations, there will probably be more snow and ice photos in the near future, so stay tuned…

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Joyeux Noel

Growing up I was lucky to spend my first Christmases in winter wonderlands, surrounded by grandparents and cousins. They were magical and perfect in every way. When we started moving around there wasn’t always snow and extended family couldn’t always join us but it was still a magical time. No matter where we were we always celebrated with the same joy and love as those first snow-filled Christmases.

My parents did an amazing job and passed on a love and appreciation for Christmas that we will always have. The most important thing they passed on is that Christmas is a time to be with loved ones. They taught us that as long as you’re together it doesn’t matter where you are in the world. Today we’re heading off to join my family for Christmas – to talk, laugh and make new memories together. I hope that this Christmas you are surrounded by loved ones, wherever you may be.

 

Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noel! Buon Natale! Feliz Navidad!

(Please share in any other languages you may know!)

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Ode to Autumn

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I have always loved all four seasons,

They each have their beautiful reasons.

But one stands out above them all,

My favorite and glorious fall.

 

Winter is biting and cold,

Hiding everything in its frosty hold.

Although a snowflake is magical to behold,

Its novelty soon becomes old.

 

Spring is a well of showers,

Followed by beautiful flowers;

But the pollen falls in powders,

Making me rue the spring hours.

 

Summer is golden and bright,

The sun setting with a glowing light.

Although it may seem just right,

After a while I long for the heat to take flight.

 

The autumn sky is clear and blue,

And the grass is damp with dew.

The trees know their cue

And begin to change their leaves anew.

 

I love winter’s sparkling white

And spring’s colorful delight.

I am warmed by summer’s golden light,

But I am exhilarated by autumn’s sight.

 

I have always loved all four seasons,

They each have their beautiful reasons.

But one stands out above them all,

My favorite and glorious fall.

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A Tale of Two Seasons

Snow still covers the ground,

As the first day of spring comes around.

The skies are gloomy and overcast,

As we hope that spring has arrived at last.

 

Could it be the voices of the larks,

Happily chirping throughout the parks?

Could it be the gentler, softer breeze,

That replaces winter’s cold and biting sneeze?

 

Could it be the glimpse of blue sky,

That beneath those gray clouds we spy?

Could it be the sun’s bright and golden light,

So welcome after winter’s fading white?

 

Snow still covers the ground,

As we wait for spring to truly come around.

The skies are gloomy and overcast,

As we wait for some sign that spring will last.

 

The first day of spring has come and gone,

Leaving us with hope that winter will soon move on.

 

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Downhill Adventures: Present

These first two months of the year have passed by in a whirlwind. We’re almost in March and I haven’t even realized that February had time to come and go. I’m 2 weeks away from turning 28 and I can’t believe I’ve already spent a year at 27. I hadn’t been skiing in at least 6 years, my husband had never skied in his life, and suddenly, on a whim, we went skiing in January. And since then, he’s been itching to go again – unfortunately weather and other factors have made that impossible so far, but hopefully we’ll go again soon!

In the meantime, here are a few words and photos about our first time skiing together (and just overall first time on the slopes for my husband!).

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As I mentioned in my earlier post about skiing, I ski, I don’t snowboard. I went from normal skis to snow blades, but it is still skiing. I have never tried snowboarding. Maybe someday I will, but I’m not so sure. There’s just something about having both of my feet stuck on one board that just worries me. Oddly enough, however, what scares me about snowboarding is what reassured my husband: he preferred the idea of having his 2 feet on one board and thought it was disconcerting to have them on 2 separate ones. I was very amused by our complete opposite views on that and also impressed that he was brave enough to try it out. He just threw himself right into his snowboarding lesson, and thank goodness he did. He loved every second of it. He even surprised his instructor by picking everything up so quickly, really being at ease on the snowboard and hardly falling throughout our hours of snow fun.

While he continued his lesson, I took a lesson of my own. Sure, I had skied nearly every year for most of my life, but it had been at least 6 years since the last time I was on the slopes, and this was a totally new place for me. Having an instructor for the first hour turned out to be really great as it let me find my ski groove again, get some helpful tips on my form and relax my nerves too. I was definitely nervous after so many years without skiing, but it was a wonderful feeling to ski again. It was freeing and invigorating. It was so much fun to go down a few slopes with my husband and to share those feelings with him. It was great to watch him snowboard and see him be so natural at it. Watching the exhilarating joy he felt coming down the slopes reminded me of what I loved about skiing, and what I had missed these past years.

What I love most about skiing is the feeling of freedom when you’re gliding down the slopes. It’s that peacefulness of forgetting everyone around you, just hearing the sounds of the snow crunching under your blades, the sun warming your face and sparkling on the snow crystals. It’s also the sense of accomplishment at the end of a day of skiing; the gratifying feel of tired muscles after a hard day of play. The accompanying serenity of a day of fresh air and the peaceful happiness it provides. It’s an indescribable feeling, and it’s beautiful.

And I know my husband felt it too that day.

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The Little Clownfish That Wreaked Havoc

Well, this post was originally going to be about my latest skiing adventures, but nature decided to throw a few snowflakes our way this past weekend, so the skiing entry will have to wait just a little longer.

So, with the help of my lovely new camera, let me introduce you to today’s topic:

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About a week ago, the weather channel turned on to high alert as it warned us about the winter wrath making its way through the states, heading towards the unsuspecting Northeast. Ok, unsuspecting may not be the right word, since we heard about this storm every second for at least a week before it hit, but I figure I’m allowed some poetic license here. So while state officials scrambled to get enough snow plows, salt and crews ready to prevent disaster, and the power companies attempted to avoid a riot by fanning out their crews to potential outage zones, I remained baffled by the name choice for this storm: Nemo. When I hear the name Nemo, I think of a little clownfish who was the star of a Disney/Pixar film. A clownfish. Not a shark, not a whale, not even a barracuda. Doesn’t quite seem like the most appropriate name for a seemingly apocalyptic snow storm, but maybe that’s just me.

So there you have it. The build up to the storm of the century (again, poetic license), the blizzard of the decade (this is almost accurate)…They got this one right. We definitely got some snow. Actually, that’s a gruesome understatement – we got A LOT of snow. So much snow that our apartment parking lot looks like the bottom of a ski slope. It’s been a workout so far. No need to go to the gym this week!

Enough words for now, let me leave you with some photos. I thought I would begin with a type of time lapse of the blizzard, and then I’ll post some of my favorite photos.

Nemo Time Lapse:

This is towards the beginning of the snowfall - probably a couple of hours in. Just barely a dusting, considering what followed.
This is towards the beginning of the snowfall – probably a couple of hours in. Just barely a dusting, considering what followed.
This is late at night - the blizzard was in full swing at this point, but would get even worse shortly after!
This is late at night – the blizzard was in full swing at this point, but would get even worse shortly after!
The following morning: the skies still seem to be threatening to dump more snow...
The following morning: the skies still seem to be threatening to dump more snow…
...But instead this happened a few hours later. The beauty of it was breathtaking.
…But instead this happened a few hours later. The beauty of it was breathtaking.
And a final one for the time lapse, as the sun slowly moved along...
And a final one for the time lapse, as the sun slowly moved along…

And now for some of my favorites:

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This photo deserves a little background story: this storm was the perfect opportunity for me to really play around with my new camera. I tried all sorts of settings (special setting for snow photos, for dusk photos…), and it was a huge learning experience for my manual focus. This is one of my favorites using the manual focus…And there were a lot, believe me. That’s what happens when you give me a DSLR with a pretty big memory card. I was having a blast!
Cars? What Cars?
Oh yes. This is our parking lot. This is why I said no need for the gym this week. The past 3 days we have worked out so much with hours of shoveling. Yes, shoveling – not snowblowing, not plowing, manual shoveling. I would say it took about 2.5 hours just to clear our car. And we didn’t stop after our car.  But truth be told, it’s been awesome!

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DSC_0190DSC_0199And a few evening shots to finish the day…

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Until next time...
Until next time…

I hope you enjoyed, and that all of you affected by the blizzard stayed safe and warm! Also, any feedback or comments on the photos are always welcome as I’ve just started using my DSLR and would definitely love to learn more!

Spring, Spring, Spring!

It’s been a weird year for seasons so far. The winter was mild, too mild almost, that it hardly appeared to be winter. Then spring arrived very early and almost immediately morphed into summer, with record high temperatures. We’re not even done with March! I know March has the saying “in like a lion, out like a lamb”, but this is a bit much, isn’t it? Don’t get me wrong, I do love summer weather, but when it’s summer!* I love every single season, which is why I’m happiest when living in temperate climates. Skipping over seasons isn’t something I’m thrilled about.

It’s true that last winter was an overload of snow and cold, with several records being broken, but I still had mixed feelings about this year’s extremely mild winter. Although I didn’t want as much snow as last year and I was significantly stressed out at the idea of driving in the snow, I missed all that sparkling white beauty, I really did. I missed bundling up in warm coats, scarves, gloves and hats. I missed drinking hot chocolate regularly. I missed the cold air stinging my face, flushing my cheeks and reinvigorating me. Oh, I know these summer temperatures won’t last and it will get cooler again (which indeed it has), but I think winter has begun its long slumber and spring has awoken.

As much as I would have liked a more ‘conventional’ winter, I cannot complain about spring being here, as I really do love this season. I do hope we’ll have more spring-like temperatures though, because something I love very much about spring and autumn too is the freshness of the weather. They are beautiful, crisp days, perfect for going for walks, playing out doors, exploring new places – without getting too hot or too cold. Another thing I love about those two seasons is the color palette they allow our eyes to feast on. Completely different colors and tones, but both equally and uniquely breathtaking. Probably the most beautiful place I’ve seen so far in the spring is Paris. Trees bloom all over the city and the suburbs, lining the streets with bursts of white and all shades of pink. The flowers basins all over the city and in all the parks overflow with the most spectacular varieties of flowers, rich in color and texture. At the beginning of spring, daffodils carpet every available green space. It is as if the entire city blossoms and awakens with the arrival of spring.

Last year I experienced my first spring in Connecticut, and I was very pleasantly surprised. Trees that I had only seen with colored leaves in the fall and naked in the winter turned out to have magnificent spring blossoms. I’m so lucky to see many of these trees from my windows and they put on a spectacular show. From one day to the next, tiny buds burst into beautiful flowers, making the trees explosions of white, pastel pink and fuchsia. The fuchsia and darker pink blossoms are my favorites. Daffodils color the ground at the beginning of spring, and are later joined by so many other flowers, and bushes bursting with such shades of pink, red and orange flowers that they seem to be on fire.

Yes, spring here is indeed beautiful and I’m looking forward to enjoying it again. I could probably go on some more, but maybe I should leave something to write later, as spring is only just beginning!

Happy spring!

* At time of writing, it was HOT, at time of posting, not so much…But at least it’s a beautiful sunny day with a gorgeous blue sky! Happy spring indeed! 🙂

Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend

The crisp, cold air stings my face and makes my eyes water, but I don’t mind. Even if I have moments when I long for spring and summer, I do love winter. The naked branches dance against the sky; they are nature’s work of art, as if they were painted or drawn with ink. The beautiful stillness and quiet when it snows is one of my favorite things of winter. Perhaps everyone is watching with wonder in their eyes, or perhaps the falling snow muffles any sound; whatever the reason, the silence is part of the beauty, part of the spectacle. Following the magic of those spectacular snowflakes floating to the ground is the sparkly winter wonderland of a world seemingly encrusted with glittering diamonds.

Does anything look cleaner or more pure than freshly fallen snow?

This is the first time in a very long time that I’m living in a place where snow is usual for the winter. The last time I lived in a city with a snowy winter I was a little girl, living in Wisconsin. When you’re a kid, you never think of the ‘nuisance’ parts of cold, snowy winters – clearing the cars and driveways, or the ice on the streets – you only think of the magical aspect of it. It’s all about the beautiful snowflakes falling from the sky, the sparkling white snow to play in, the snowmen and snow caves, eating the snow, sledding, snow angels and snowball fights…and delicious hot chocolate after all that exhilarating fun.

That’s how I remember my winters as a little girl. My sister and I would get so excited when the snowflakes began to fall. We couldn’t wait to get all bundled up and run outside, mouths open to catch the falling snow. We loved to catch the snowflakes on our gloves and admire their beautiful and unique shapes – after all, no two snowflakes are alike! We would drop in the snow and make snow angels; we would have snowball fights with mom and dad. One time, our neighbors helped us build a snow cave with a tunnel – that was awesome, trust me. One of my all time favorite things was to eat the snow. I could just sit down and happily eat it, for quite some time. Sure, it’s just water in one of its many forms, but it’s snow. Enough said. Something else I loved in the winter: seeing our husky appear out of nowhere in the white expanse. When my dad would call him, a head would suddenly pop out of the snow in some part of the yard. He would dig himself a hole to curl up in, then it would snow over him and he’d be completely covered. He loved the snow, but did refuse to pull our sled. Adamantly refused. If we ever put the sled rope around his neck, he would sit down and refuse to budge. We never minded – his reaction made us laugh. And he loved playing with us in the snow, as long as we weren’t trying to make him pull our sled! Besides, we would sled down the 2-3 steps of our back porch, and even if it wasn’t much of a slope, it was enough for us. Our back yard was a vision in white: a huge expanse of glittering, dazzling snow, like sparkling diamonds, and we loved it.

Snow also makes me think of our time in Montreal at Christmas, and all the time spent playing outside with our cousins. Back then you were sure to always have a very white Christmas, which meant we would be out in the snow as much as possible. We would build fortresses, we would throw snowballs, and we would sit and happily eat the snow when recovering our energy after a more strenuous activity. We would spend hours at a time outside, often only coming in when our moms came looking for us, convinced the snow had managed to get inside our gloves, socks, jackets (everywhere basically), and that we were most likely soaked through with freezing toes and fingers. They were generally correct, even if we would never admit it. Then we’d all trample home, usually leaving a trail of snow behind us, and continue our chatting and games over a wonderful cup of hot chocolate. The next day we would be ready for our fun again, basking in the glow of the sun and the brightness of the snow, glittering like precious gems. It was blissful and I will forever keep wonderful memories of those days.

Even as I’ve gotten older I’ve never lost the excitement and wonder I felt when I would see the snowflakes start falling. I’ll still play in the snow – just a couple of years ago, when we had an unexpected snowstorm in France, my brother, husband and I went outside with our current husky, and we had a blast. Our husky was so excited to be out in all that snow, he was running everywhere, so happy to be part of our games. We threw snowballs, we ate some snow, we made snow angels, and the guys were even brave enough (or crazy?) to let themselves fall face-first in the snow. I couldn’t bring myself to do it, but it was hilarious to watch! Snow has provided me with hours and hours of pure, blissful and heart-warming fun and I look forward to the many hours still waiting to be filled with wintry joy.

Snow will always bring a smile to my face and I can’t wait to play in it again – with my husband, my siblings, my cousins, and eventually, with my kids. That glittering gem of nature will always be this girl’s favorite type of diamond.