Unexpected Company

Some winter weather-not so much worth talking about.  Michigan can be grey and unchanged, day after day, week after week.  This winter we are seeing plenty of activity.  Not the snow sort that has the east coast barely operating in first gear, or the unexpected snow, ice and cold that has the south in its grip-but active winter weather nonetheless.  I have lost count how many snow storms we have had, but yesterday’s was significant.  Significantly beautiful.  Driving by the front walk last night, I could see the prints from an unexpected visitor.  

I could see those prints, as I have lights in the landscape.  Path lights are a must; there are stairs to climb to my front door.  An older friend fell into the boxwood a few years ago, taking her husband with her.  Though I was horrified, they laid over the boxwood, laughing.  Needless to say, I saw to getting that walkway lit.  Tonight,here are big spaces between these two tiny snowprints-who came calling?

My holiday lighting-I can not bear to turn it off. By the time I get home now, it is dark.  I like seeing the lights on inside, and the lights on outside.  The night lighted is a comfort to me.  This snowfall was particularly beautiful; I came up the back stairs with the idea to take some pictures.  I persuaded Buck to haul my tripod to the car, and drive me around the block to the front door.  It took a little time to explain that I did not want to ruin my snow with my bootprints, and fix him a vodka on the rocks. He agreed to go along. This is my idea of a night out, camera and tripod in tow, I photographed the footprints of my unexpected company. 

Once I was done outside, Buck obligingly drove me home. Around the corner to the driveway, that is.  You would think I had documented an event of great importance. He rolled his eyes.  Apparently the garden has lots of visitors; only in the winter are there prints.  Buck tells me the yard is a way station for all sorts of creatures.  One neighborhood cat traverses the top of our fence almost every day. I ventured out the front door,careful to keep the legs of the tripod out of view.  Unmistakeable, signs of a visitor meandering up the walk.    

I was easily able to track the prints in the snow, courtesy of the landscape lighting. Make no mistake, my outdoor lighting would win no awards.  I know not so much about it, and the catalogues of fixtures exhaust me.  I refer my clients to a lighting designer and contractor whose work I like. Kevin came and lit my front walk, and my driveway at my request. On my mind last night was an idea to get much more involved in lighting-especially for winter.   My path lights need something in the way of a riser; the boxwood have grown.  Nonetheless, the now too short fixture made for a pool of bright light that dramatically changed the night view of my garden in winter.

The path lights in the background of this picture illuminate the first flight of steps up to my front door with an intense and focused light. The city street light illuminates the dark softly; this light is high off the ground.  My four footed visitor had little problem coming up the stairs. This picture has me thinking about how complicated a lighting scheme can be-in the absence of the sun.

The lighting in this container has never looked better than it did last night.  This snowfall-incredibly beautiful.  The snow collecting on the hydrangeas and boxwood-I would have never seen this, but for the lights in the landscape. 

I do not so much love the winter.  But there are those times that what I see makes me grateful I have it.  I have a little yard in a city.  No views to an ocean.  No mountains. No property to speak of. But last night, courtesy of the light, it was truly enchanting.


  1. Thanks for taking us on that pleasant stroll around your lighted garden. Those great puffs of snow are definitely the gifts of winter.

  2. We had a snowfall in Seattle last night as well. As I stood at the window admiring the beauty I kept telling myself I should photograph it. A small frozen water feature with snow building up along the edge, the mounds of the grasses underneath the light snow – beautiful, quiet, enchanting. Alas, I didn’t – and today it is 50 and gone. Thank you for capturing what I failed to.

  3. Bless Buck for being so cooperative to allow you to persue your photo opportunities! My husband most certainly would have rolled his eyes too! We have gotten a lot of snow this year in Minnesota. Everytime it snows, I love looking outside to admire God’s work before my girls tear it up with their sleds and snowboards. My husband is tired of shoveling the snow and we still have 2 more long months to go!

  4. Beautiful pictures! Snow at night under the lights is not something we see much of and it is lovely!

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