In the winter with the leaves gone, the forest opens up and one
can see through the trees across to the farm up the trail, the
mountains on the other side of the river, and down into the
Winter Sunrise View from the balconyWinter came early in 2005 with a heavy snowfall in late November.
Leaves of the Japanese maple in the snow
"Snow flower" Helebore (Christmas rose)
The forest floor is carpeted with dead leaves
The ice forms interesting patterns and crystals
If ice has formed on the tree branches, everything sparkles like diamonds in the sun.
Trees coated in ice in the winter sun
In 2008-2009, it was cold for so long that seepage on the upper road froze into a long slippery ice slide.
With the trees bare in winter, it is possible to see my chalet from the other side of the valley across the River Usses.
When it snows, everything turns quiet and white. Now that the chalet is well insulated, it stays toasty warm inside with a fire in the fireplace stove.
Walking along the forest trails, everything is different.
The wildlife leave their tracks in the snow, so I can see that the badgers are still active in and out of their holes. The tracks of deer and hares are also common. They often use the trails I have built through the forest.
Badger dens in the forest
footprints in the snow
I can see much further in winter when the trees do not block
Collecting wood for the fireplace is a year-round occupation. Since the chalet is at the top of my property, the wood has to be carried up hill using my trails. This ensures I get exercise when no other gardening is possible.
Carrying firewood up to the chalet
Building trails through the woods has been one of my favorite activities since I was 14 years old and built trails through the forest where I lived in California. The steep slopes on my property make this particularly challenging. In the winter snow, the trails get slippery and I have to clear them if I need to carry firewood.
Clearing and repairing one of my forest trails
For kindling, I cut up branches and small trees with large shears. This way I get warm twice, once in cutting the wood, and again in burning it.
Cutting up fallen trees