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  • Writer's pictureDon Toothaker

Changing Winter

Winter is finally here. Saturday night, after a week of varying forecasts, winter, as I prefer it to be, showed up in powerful, snowy force. Yes, the calendar states that winter began on December 21st, but until Saturday, this winter had been a mixed bag of rain and weather more suited for a sweater than a coat. Until Saturday night, winter, like several recent winters, had been another dud.

Growing up in New England, winter was at least three months of consistent cold and snow. It was snowstorms and waiting anxiously to learn if school had been canceled. It was shoveling, massive snow banks, and snow plows. We went sledding for hours, built formidable snow forts, and stockpiled arsenals of snowballs. As a kid, nature provided me with countless hours of fun. But now, due to changing weather patterns on a global level, our local weather has changed. Our seasons now feature periods of unusual warming trends, extreme heat, drought, rain, snow, and wind. The consistency of each season, especially winter, has changed and, perhaps, is gone for good.

Four distinct seasons are part of the charm and appeal of living in New England, but it is a package deal. To live in New England meant you accepted the discomforts of winter along with the pleasing beauty of spring, the pleasantness of summer, and the stunning beauty of fall. Each season has a unique look and feel that every New Englander looks forward to. Including winter. For centuries the rugged weather of winter greatly contributed to our resourcefulness and our heartiness. Over time, winter became part of the character and lore of New England. But the times are changing.

Now, arguably somewhat grown up, winter is still fun to me. But it's different. My fun is different and winter is different. Today, instead of hoping for days off from school, I hope to photograph the beauty I see in the cold and snow. There is just less cold and snow. Each winter, I envision creating images of the landscape and coast magically transformed by fresh snow. Sadly, snow does not happen as often as it once did. I think of dramatic scenes and abstract compositions that inspire my creativity, but now, I often travel outside New England to find such opportunities. I miss the winters of my childhood.

Sunday morning, I woke early for coffee, and through the kitchen window, I could see winter had arrived with beautiful fury. Due to a nagging injury, I could not go out with my camera. Instead, I chose to create indoors looking outdoors. I moved from window to window composing storm scenes through my viewfinder. I felt sorry for myself stuck indoors, but I welcomed the challenge of looking at the storm differently. I felt like a kid again as I anxiously marveled at the storm through my windows. I made some images. I did what I could.

Later, as I sat down to enjoy my coffee, I realized the lesson was to make the most of what you can control and let go of what you cannot. Winter in New England is no longer what it once was, but it is still fun and even more beautiful. It all depends on how you look at it.

Photograph What You Feel

Fuji XT5

Sigma 18-50mm f2.8 Lens

ISO: 125

APT: f11

EXP: 12 Seconds on a Benro Travel Angel Tripod with Acratech Ultimate Ballhead

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