January is dominated by the dark and the gray. We go to work before the sun rises; by the time we get home, it’s already gone down. The cold and rain doesn’t

help, either!


But even in these seemingly inhospitable conditions, there’s still a lot going on around us in nature. I always encourage folks to take a closer look at their outdoor surroundings … but especially in winter, because there is so much to see! Water droplets (maybe iced over) on leaves and branches. Dried seed heads on perennials. Dried flower heads on deciduous shrubs, red and golden stems. Winter foliage on conifers, evergreens, and other trees, the pinnacle of nature’s architecture.


It’s almost as if the planet is trying to send us a message: There’s beauty to be found at all times, even when you least expect it. That is, if you’re willing to look.


So while you’re out and about in the winter months, make an effort to stop every so often and truly see what’s around you. Look—and continue to look. Notice the textures, the forms, the colors. Is it fragrant? Is it swaying in the breeze? Is it moving or flying?


Shift your eyes up and down, too. Who’s buzzing around and hanging out in the trees and shrubs? It’s a great time of year to see (and hear) native Anna’s Hummingbirds, as well as robins, bushtits, and squirrels.


Consider this a challenge: As soon as you finish reading this article, step outside, even for just a moment. Stop. Look. Listen. Give thanks for this beautiful place in which we are so fortunate to live.


And tomorrow? Do it again. You’ll be glad you did.