The Softness of Winter

Photography, Writing

Winter is often harsh, bitter and cold in Canada. The cold and the wind snaps at our legs, scrapes our faces raw, and bites the tips of our fingers. Our eyes water, our noses run.

We celebrate our ability to tough it out. It makes us feel alive. And that experience of that special warm burn of our rosy skin as it begins to warm up. Only we who know the cold know that deliciousness. When we brave the elements, we say this is what being Canadian is about! We say it with a strange kind of almost manic exhilaration.

We have to tell ourselves that. Otherwise, how could we bear it, this unrelenting harshness? Day after day, week after week, month after month, when by March we are all snapping at one another.

But the truth is, when you’ve dressed properly, and you take the time to look, winter has a softness about it at times, maybe even a kind of sadness, as the day comes to a close, that it should be so reviled, so misunderstood. The dusting of snow caressing the curves of a field highlighting shapes we haven’t noticed before; the gentle but passionate colour of the sky embracing the earth: it’s not all icy blues and blinding whites. It never is.

Softness at times, like fighting lovers who pause, exhausted perhaps, to briefly remember the love they once shared, a small smile, a glimpse of softness, softness before it descends into darkness.

Rolling Great Lake Winter Clouds


Under the right conditions, cloud will sit over Lake Ontario in the winter.

These were the last of them for 2017, blue and brooding settling in a pink sky.

Shot at dusk Dec 31 2017.

New Years Day


This is not a photo; it’s a document, a testament. This is the year we started out as Canadian bad asses. January 1st, 2018. Broken and bruised hearts full of hope, the way life has a way of coming at you. We came out with our bottle of whiskey, my camera, our boots. I didn’t even know how cold it was because my phone froze. -13? -14?

This is the kind of photo I might have admired from a distance. You won’t catch me out there, doing that. But there we were. Wondering about the light in the sky and the hard life of swans and other birds on a day such as this.

Shot January 1, 2018 as the sun went down.  Approximate weather at the time was recorded online as:

Temperature: -13 °C or -14°C Passing clouds. Wind: 26 km/h Humidity: 56% Barometer: 102.78 kPa Visability: 24 km

Human Inuksuk


“We call him stumpy.”

My human inuksuk fortified by whiskey and Canadian badassery New Years day. He came out with me to hang out in the cold while I prowled around the beach catching the light.

Shot January 1, 2018 as the sun went down.  Approximate weather at the time was recorded as:

Temperature: -13 °C or -14°C Passing clouds. Wind: 26 km/h Humidity: 56% Barometer: 102.78 kPa Visability: 24 km

The Dying Light of the Old Year


The last light of 2017.  Incredible light.

The latter half of 2017 was personally tough. It kind of culminated into a difficult tangle of emotion by December, enhanced perhaps by the lack of light and the Canadian winter. Things seems more desperate and hopeless than they had to be at times. Unnecessarily so.  I was going through the motions.

But has often happened to me in the winter, the act of shooting moves me away from the day to day struggle. I was positively giddy when I shot this.  The sun was setting in the other direction which was what I was actually planning on shooting and missed.  I saw this and had to stop.  This is the one, this is the one! I realized a little later, this was the first time I had been purely happy in a long while, where the other stuff didn’t matter.

Whether it is the ”one” or not is immaterial. These are experiences when we get connected to the universe, to a higher purpose.  Or if not that grand, at least to the magic of life and experience.

This is why I shoot. This is why I spent money I don’t have on my camera.

My sails got righted that night….  We have plenty of dark and cold to come in the next few months. There is more struggle.  But the days are getting longer now.

Happy New Year!