We officially entered winter December 21st. I could write this article about how cozy winter is, and how we should check out more books from the library to curl up around a fire and read as the days are shorter. Please, by all means, do come to the library for this reason. But I also want to share other ways winter and reading can go together. All of the books mentioned here are available at Pocahontas County Libraries.

What is that Scandinavian saying, “there is no bad weather, just bad clothing?”

How true! So I put on my coat and grab Tracking and the Art of Seeing: How to Read Animal Tracks and Sign by Paul Rezendes to see what has been coming to the river to drink. The snow, or mud on a warmer winter day, allows me to observe in perfect detail the prints of the wildlife that have walked the same path before me. There is evidence of deer, a mouse or maybe a squirrel, goose prints, rabbit, and the tiny prints of a cat, which I like to imagine is a bobcat and not just a neighborhood house cat on the prowl.

Snowflakes are fascinating. My winter coat is black which is perfect for examining each exquisitely formed flake as it falls on my sleeve. Wilson Bentley was the first person to discover that each flake is unique. He spent years photographing these beauties and the library has books to learn more about his life. We have a biography for adults, The Snowflake Man: A Biography of Wilson A. Bentley by Duncan C. Blanchard and a children’s biography called Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs. We also have a book of Bentley’s snowflakes photographed under a microscope called, Snowflakes in Photographs. Bentley believed the observation of snow forms was “a road to fairyland,” and although he died in 1931, his research helps us appreciate these tiny crystals of ice.

Lastly, I have to mention the birds that stay in our mountains during the winter.

I was excited to see a flock of cedar waxwings, perched, like ornaments, on branches of a tree last winter while I was walking to the mailbox. Not all birds like to visit the feeders; some prefer the cover of dense bushes or the tops of pine trees. All of the libraries have bird identification guides such as The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America by David Sibley to help us learn the names of the birds as well as books like the North American Birdfeeders Guide by Robert Burton and Stephen W. Kress to help us learn when and how to feed these feathered friends.

So, I challenge you to get stocked up on resources at the local library, bundle up, and head outside to see what can be seen in this season of ice and snow. I hope you will agree that there is indeed a lot to see, right in our own backyards.