photo credit: Anna Kostenko

"I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape - the loneliness of it - the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it - the whole story doesn't show." Andrew Wyeth

Unlike my husband, who spent much of his life in the Bahamas, I grew up in Pennsylvania, and so learned to appreciate the starkness of the winterscape. Seeing the trees bereft of leaves was a grounding experience for me, and those evening sunsets silhouetting the black lacy branches were as lovely as anything spring could offer.

Several years ago, a friend mentioned that often our inner work mirrors the landscape or season we find ourselves in. During the winters of our lives we find ourselves being stripped bare; the outer trappings fall away, leaving only an inner core, the "bone structure" of who we are. As familiar roles are taken from us, or change requires us to investigate new pathways, we shiver, exposed and uncertain.

But though we may feel diminished, the self remains. Apart from the busyness of life, apart from our productivity, and even our clarity, we exist; in the stillness, our breath reminds us that we are alive. And if we are willing to embrace the "absolute patience" of winter's handiwork, we may find ourselves experiencing the happiness of pure being.

The Breathing
  Denise Levertov

"An absolute
Trees stand
up to their knees in
fog. The fog
slowly flows
cobwebs, the grass 
leaning where deer
have looked for apples.
The woods
from brook to where
the top of the hill looks
over the fog, send up
not one bird.
So absolute, it is
no other than
happiness itself, a breathing
too quiet to hear."

For more of Kostenko's photography, click here.