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Beauty is ...

There is just something extraordinary about a winter landscape. It’s so reflective and basic ... and bare. Its pairing back illuminates a beauty at its most basic nominal level.

To an untrained eye, I suppose, a winter’s landscape could be considered cold and stark; and brittle and cold; and removed and barren. Somewhat like … death or the absence of life.

To me, a winter’s landscape is all about structure and bones. Like they say of true beauty, without the structure, it is fleeting. There is nothing I love more than to let my eye travel the dark silhouette of a bare branch against a dark or gray sky, its outline all the more evident and sharp and distinguished alongside the tone-on-tone skies of winter; the edges precise … and perfectly unique.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

A line we’ve memorized since childhood, I’m sure. But do we really believe it?

Christmas is one of my most favorite times of the year. I wait and plan and anticipate the holiday for a majority of the days that make up a year. For me, it is a celebration of excess in almost all aspects. My husband knows it is near impossible for me to stay on any kind of financial budget, I bake more cookies than my family’s family and friends could possibly eat, I schedule us too thin with seasonal activities and merry making; and by the 25th … I’m near exhausted, but usually happy and anticipating the joy of doing it all again in twelve months.

And then comes January. The beginning of the month is the beginning of the purge. The glorious and cherished artifacts of Christmas are carefully packed away. The house looks and feels empty in its wake. It is a time when some begin the post-holiday blues. I, however, love and cherish this time. The interior of our home becomes minimal; I even decorate with bare branches in snow-white vases around our house to reflect what nature is doing on its own.

January is a month of financial overhauls, healthier menu selections, and yearly planning. And I would add one more … it is a month of faith.

Faith is said to be the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of that which is not seen.

As I gaze on the dark umber branches reaching toward a very gray and wet sky today, I anticipate and have faith that new life will spring forth in mere weeks. The bare structures will be beautifully embellished with shiny spring-green leaves and tiny pink flowers. As I look at the first month of a new year and a new decade, I also have faith and hope that new life will be breathed into my loved ones lives and that their hopes and dreams for the future will be as spectacular as the impending spring.

Embrace the promise of what is to come in the landscape around you … and be hopeful for the future is very bright indeed.

And ... Christmas is only eleven months away. Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

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