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Nature in January

We live in one of the most beautiful spots in the world, yet in the past I often forgot to notice what God was doing outside.  That was both ungrateful and foolish.

The tiny walks I now regularly take have been such a joy.  What a relief from the everyday busyness of algebra, cellular reproduction, Hammurabi, and endless loads of laundry to slip outside and see what’s up with the ice and who has been walking on it!  Or to find a tiny nest in a sumac bush.  And then to realize that my God, who makes and cares for all that, cares for my loved ones and for me, too.

This month was all about water in its many forms, from three-dimensional crystal forests at the edge of the river, winking in the sunshine, to wisps of steam curling up from hot tea and half-filled hot water bottles.  I marveled at snow falling from the sky, snow sculpted into fantastic patterns by the wind, and snow photographed almost a century ago by Bentley.  The sun dogs indicated ice crystals far, far up in the sky and, on the ground, the ice made even the dogs concentrate on their footing.  After the January thaw, ice slowly took back the river, surprising me again and again—forming patterns opposed to the current, making a small waterfall where there was none, and hosting the racoons’ moonlit promenades.

Many of these things could not be photographed using my phone camera, but here is ice forming at the edge of the river, with its jagged edges facing into the current.  Why?  I haven’t tried to understand that yet, but it seems counter-intuitive and yet there is such comfortable joy in knowing it does all make sense in some delightfully unanticipated way.

I now have a bird feeder! Chickadees enjoy it but blue jays and cardinals don’t visit much, yet.

We have seen foxes and heard coyotes, but there have been no signs of wolves or bears this year. Occasionally, however, something is wrong and the dogs whine, crashing against our front door in a panic.

And the house has been awash in flowers from dear friends and family.  This one takes my breath away.

I encourage you to really notice God’s beautiful world every day, no matter where you live.  For wintery inspiration, you could visit Barb’s Handbook of Nature Study website which has suggestions of what to focus on.  Or you could just go for a walk with your eyes, ears, and heart open.

If you enjoyed this article, you might want to follow me on Google+ where I often mention helpful or interesting ideas, or connect with me on GoodReads where I share what I read. 

Please see Keeping Company for more inspiration.


  1. Yes, you certainly do live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. It is a goal of mine to see your part of the world one day, perhaps after the kids graduate from university. It is so easy to take these kinds of things for granted. You are in my prayers for improved health and energy. Thank you for your kind comments on my little blog.

    1. Annie Kate says:

      Thank you, Jenn! If you do make it to this part of the world, we could meet in person! Wouldn’t that be amazing?

      Yes, we so easily take God’s outdoor gifts for granted. I am actively trying not to, and it is a blessing in so many ways. You enjoy your beautiful lake world, too!

  2. Carol says:

    I lived in one of the loveliest places I’ve ever been in for 3 years but it wasn’t until I visited the place again that I realized how much I’d missed because I was going through a very difficult season & my focus was elsewhere. I was quite shocked to see how much beauty I had missed while I was living there!

    1. Annie Kate says:

      That is a hard thing to realize, isn’t it? There was so much beauty that could have helped in some small way, and you did not see it. I think we need to be deliberate about it, and am grateful to Charlotte Mason’s reminders of that.

      I still need to work on getting my younger children to realize this; the older ones do but seeing bear tracks has frightened the younger ones.

  3. Celeste says:

    I so appreciated reading your outdoor observations! We don’t have cold enough weather here for our water to ice over except in the shallowest puddles, so I am always a little amazed at photos of that whole phenomenon!

    1. Annie Kate says:

      Thank you! Yes, ice is an amazing thing.

      This winter I have noticed water in so many forms from ‘ordinary’ ice and snowflakes to sundogs and fields full of ‘crystal forests,’ delicate 3D ice formations that glittered as the wind passed over. In the winter, our lives are hugely influenced by the many forms of water.

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