Moving to the Southwest after growing up in Minnesota has given the holiday season new meaning. While many wouldn't relish joining the ranks of folks who travel for the holidays, I've found my seasonal trips home surprisingly enjoyable. Not only do they offer opportunities to see friends and family, but they've also helped me maintain my relationship with snow.
Before I left Minnesota, I was growing sick of snow. Is it beautiful? Absolutely. Is it part of the midwestern regional identity? Sure. But after it fulfils its duty of providing an idyllic backdrop for Christmas and New Year's, it becomes a nuisance. During periods between winter storms, it hardens into crusty ice and takes on muddy hues from dirt and car exhaust. When it finally snows again, it causes traffic accidents and buries your car. All this comes in addition to the bitter cold and the moisture that finds its way into your shoes (and eventually into your home), as any trip outside requires trudging through deep drifts that turn your feet into crudely hewn snowballs.
And yet, despite all this, part of me will always feel at home in wintry conditions. This was certainly the case the evening I captured this photo at William O'Brien, a state park just a short drive from my childhood home. My family has always enjoyed hiking into O'Brien "the back way," which takes you to a high point with sweeping views of the St. Croix Valley. This is what I had planned to photograph after the previous night's snowstorm, but I found myself instead gravitating toward the Sumac grove just east of the trail. Their leaves were gone, and they weren't bearing their customary red fruits, but the way they appeared to dance amid the deep snowdrifts beneath the setting sun was unforgettable.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor