Winter Wonderland Wisdom

Frost adorns a window in the German village of Oberammergau.

“Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.”

Henry David Thoreau

With craggy mountain peaks and evergreens on the hillsides dressed in a confectioner’s sugar-like snow to command one’s attention, it is easy to miss the smaller details of winter in the alpine village of Oberammergau, Germany. Before we embarked on errands in the city center of the frescoed town the other day, I was struck by the loveliness of the delicate designs Mother Nature had etched on our windows in frost.

frost on german window

“We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand….and melting like a snowflake. Let us use it before it is too late.”

Marie Beynon Ray
frost on oberammergau window

“These Winter nights against my window-pane Nature with busy pencil draws designs Of ferns and blossoms and fine spray of pines, Oak-leaf and acorn and fantastic vines, Which she will make when summer comes again– Quaint arabesques in argent, flat and cold, Like curious Chinese etchings.”

Thomas Bailey Aldrich

“On a lone winter evening, when the frost has wrought a silence.”

John Keats
Oberammergau frost on window - germany

Where in the World?

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Published by Tricia A. Mitchell

Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta; Heidelberg, Germany; and Split, Croatia. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene. A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia. Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.

45 thoughts on “Winter Wonderland Wisdom

    1. Ephemeral – such a fitting word to describe Mother Nature’s achievements, Rachael. Given how aggressive the snow had been early on in the season, I was surprised that we largely had a green/brown Christmas, and not one dressed in snow.

      Here’s hoping you and your family had a joyous Christmas. Looking forward to seeing more of your splendid work in 2013!

    1. Juliann, tardy holiday greetings to you, and thanks for your comment. It’s funny that you mentioned that I should frame these, as my husband and I are in the process of unpacking a plethora of framed pictures from ’round the world and we’re swiftly running out of wall space! Perhaps a coffee table book with pictures from around the year is in order, though. :)

    1. Thank you for the Christmas wishes, Jo. Here’s hoping you enjoyed a beautiful holiday yesterday!

      It’s true that when I’m lamenting about the cold temperatures, I should remember what beauty that make possible. :)

    1. Mekala, surprisingly our Christmas was rather earth-toned, given that we had a bit of a warm-spell just before the holidays. Though I lamented the snow’s passing, my family was thrilled not to do shoveling duty on the driveway. :)

      Here’s hoping you’re having a splendid holiday season. All the best for 2013 too.

      1. Thank you! I feel very blessed to be able to prepare so much food for others. A big cleaning day today :)

        Have a wonderful holiday season!!

      2. Thanks, Judy! We were happy to have a bit of a break from cooking today, but whipping up old and new treats is such a fun part of the holiday season. Here’s hoping your cleaning day goes well. :)

    1. Cornelia, indeed it is magical! We went to the midnight mass on Christmas Eve. There was standing room only, and the church was beautifully lit with candles – which of course were dramatically extinguished for the final ‘Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht.’ Quite special.

      Frohe Weihnachten wishes to you, Cornelia, and all the best for 2013!

    1. Antoinette, your warm wishes must have worked, for we’ve been having a bit of a warm spell here these past days, resulting in a not-so-white Christmas. Here’s hoping you’re having a splendid time in the Big Apple! Will you be ringing in 2013 there too?

    1. Desiree, when I was a child, my mom bought me a package of sun print paper. Sadly, by the time I’d gotten around to using it, it had spoiled. I did a little research on the internet though, and found that it can be done with construction paper. Perhaps once we’ve gotten all unpacked, it’s a creative project I can tackle.

      Speaking of creative inspiration, I’m very much enjoying seeing the work from your painting marathon!

    1. I’m so very flattered by the award; thank you!

      I’ve very much enjoyed chatting about some of the similar latitudes and longitudes to which we’ve both visited. All the best to you and your family as we approach 2013!

    1. Marie, that’s really the highest compliment I could receive – thank you so much for taking the time to stop by again! Here’s hoping you enjoyed a wonderful holiday, with still more festivities to come before we reach 2013.

    1. Sid, sending you belated holiday greetings and many thanks for yours! Surprisingly, with the way winter had begun here, we didn’t have much snow on the ground for Christmas (it had melted since my last posts), but the Alpine surroundings still created the perfect setting.

  1. Hi Tricia!

    Merry Christmas!!! I just wanted to take a minute to say Thanks for all the Beautiful winter pictures, I have been SO thoroughly enjoying them!!! We have really been missing Germany, and seeing your pictures brings joy to my heart!! So glad you guys are able to spend time in Oberammergau!

    Enjoy Christmas tomorrow! Love, Heather

    1. Heather, it’s so nice to hear from you, and to know that the little glimpses I’ve shared of Germany during the holidays have helped your homesickness. We are really quite lucky to be here this time of year! I hope you and your family enjoyed a wonderful Christmas together. I’ll catch up with you soon by email. Hugs!

    1. Thanks so much, Andy! My husband and I are really enjoying our time in the Alps, though after spending last winter in Southeast Asia, I’d also like to do a post on summer wisdom sometime in the near future. :) Glad we connected!

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