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Life or Something Like It: Winter shows its wonders

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By Suzanne Darland

Sure, I get that everyone’s tired of winter and ready for spring already.

That we haven’t had this many below-freezing days in a row in years.
That we had snow on the ground for almost two weeks.

But the trees. They were absolutely spectacular.

After freezing rain Feb. 4 coated trees with half an inch of ice, we were treated to a winter wonderland that rivaled any staged Christmas light show.

Granted, some branches cracked under the weight of the ice and some power lines in town came down. My neighbor’s massive pine trees look like a giant chainsaw sheared them on one side. But this was nothing like the ice storm five years ago when hundreds of thousands of homes across the state were without power for a week or more.

Bowing low to the ground in graceful arches, bushes and trees in yards, along roads and in area parks were exquisite studies in still life, each branch and twig encased in clear glass. Even the pine trees, which seemed to be the variety that bore the brunt of the storm, were objects of wonder. Each green needle was separately iced and branches were drawn in close to the trunks, making the trees thinner than their usual wide-boughed display.

When the sun came out, as it did for a few hours on several days, the trees were lit up with the brilliance some try to emulate when they wrap tree branches with hundreds of lights at Christmas.

Like a fairyland, Elizabethtown trees shimmered and sparkled as far as the eye could see. And being dusted with snow after a couple light showers in the following days brought the ice-covered branches into sharp relief. Suddenly, every tree in town was etched against the sky, awing us with its silent presence.

At night, trees that were near streetlights or colored lights of a nearby business reflected the hues of green, red or yellow. They danced when a sign flashed on and off or a car’s headlights passed by.

Day after day, the ice stayed, longer than I ever remember it doing. And my wonder at God’s handiwork didn’t diminish. If the afternoon was sunny, I wanted to drive a different route from work or walk around Freeman Lake Park or Elizabethtown Nature Park to see as many of the crystal-encrusted bushes and trees as I could. A friend told me her patient husband accompanied her on command to take photos when the sun came out from behind a cloud.

Of course, the ice on the ground that also stubbornly stayed around under the snow — yes, I did fall in the church parking lot one day — didn’t hold quite the cachet the natural world did. And I am not sure how the azalea bush by the front door, splayed out along the ground to a fraction of its 5-foot height, is going to fare come spring.

But it was a great show. Hope you got to enjoy it.

Suzanne Darland teaches journalism classes and is director of the faculty advising center at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College.