Colors are muted, but contrasts abound: The pond fountain with

its frozen base becomes a study in light and shadow. A tangle of

dead grasses on a sunny bank still holds a hint of autumn warmth,

contrasting with the black-and-white geometry of a snow-covered bench.

Our winter weather, too, is highly variable, going from sharp cold spells

to sudden springlike warmth. Squirrels often dash around at ground level

on their cryptic errands, only retreating to their leafy nests high in the trees

when the cold intensifies. A stand of Bald Cypress knees seems to bask

cheerfully in the sun nestled among coppery Beech leaves. In very late

winter the River Birch's bark blushes a barely perceptible pink in sign of

the approaching spring, but there still may be time for an occasional

snowfall to transform the landscape into another world.