Winter Trees

On December 6, I dawdled my way to the Willow City Loop, north of Fredericksburg. Known primarily for its profusion of bluebonnets and other wildflowers in spring, it’s equally interesting in autumn and early winter. Rocks, cedars, and seedheads predominate; mistletoe and ball moss decorate bare limbs.

When I noticed the still-visible moon hanging in the sky, these lines from poet William Carlos Williams came to mind. His work titled “Winter Trees” easily divides into three haiku-like poems, as elegant as the trees they celebrate.

All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.


Comments always are welcome.

50 thoughts on “Winter Trees

    1. It’s not just a full moon at midnight that has appeal. I really enjoyed seeking out some typical trees to frame this one. You do have some wonderful country out there!

  1. Lovely shots, and I like that last poem in particular. The trees are leafless more than half the year where I live, so I’ve learned to appreciate them that way, and am always glad to think of them as alive and well, during the long stretches of dormancy.

    1. I’ve always liked the phrase applied to fields, too: lying fallow. We can’t go forever without rest and sleep, and either can the fields or trees, or anything else living. The form of dormancy — or more generally, rest — differs from life form to life form, but it’s as important as life-supporting activity, and as pleasurable to observe.

    1. Given a liquid moon, we could begin playing with “waves of moonlight” or “frozen beams.” Williams sometimes is described as an ‘imagist poet.’ He proved it with this one.

    1. I’m glad I noticed it before the sunlight dimmed it even more –and before it dropped below the tree line.
      It certainly was a visual treat; I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  2. The trees in the first picture and the last may stand sleeping, but the tree in the middle picture, if it’s male, is awake enough that that it will soon sneeze out large enough quantities of pollen to make many a human sneeze as well.

    1. You’ve got that right. I noticed how plump and full the cones were that week. They hadn’t started popping yet, but when they do, we’ll know it; the pollen reaches even to the coast if the wind is strong enough. Even from a dozing tree, that pollen can be a doozie!

    1. I visited before the renovations, some years ago. On the day I took these photos, I only drove past it. It’s a wonderfully impressive building, and one of these days I will make another visit.

    1. It intrigues me that you see this moon as cold. Perhaps because the day was so pleasant, and because the sky seemed such a warm blue, I thought of the moon as warm, too. On the other hand, your comment brought to mind my favorite version of a favorite song about the moon.

    1. One moon, many trees. Many words, one poem. Put them together, and the whole is more than the sum of its parts. When it works, it’s a wonderful experience.

      By the way, I have a new visitor at my feeders: a pine warbler. I thought it was a goldfinch at first, but after downloading the Merlin app and giving that a try, I saw why I’d been mistaken. Apart from appearance, it was clear that the goldfinches preferred thistle and shelled sunflower seed, while my pine warbler preferred the dried mealworms.

  3. Beautifully framed photos and a poem that seems written for the occasion. I’m always intrigued and surprised when I see the moon high in a blue sky – I feel like I’m getting an extra little peek at a show that has been officially closed.

    1. What a neat way to describe it — almost like getting to go backstage. As for framing, one advantage of the Willow City Loop is the ability to park and roam the middle of the road on foot. Because of the gravel, it’s easy to hear someone coming and get out of the way; because it’s country, there’s always a wave — and sometimes a conversation.

    1. Thanks, Jo! I’m quite fond of that last photo myself; I’m glad it gave you pleasure. I skirted your territory on my way home this time. For a variety of reasons I didn’t want to drive I-10 into Houston, or get involved in San Antonio traffic, so I dropped south from Bandera and went through Jourdanton and Pleasanton. When I saw the signs to Corpus I thought about you, and hoped you were having a happy pre-holiday time, as well.

    1. I thought it was an especially good way to feature some of the hill country trees. They may not meet everyone’s criteria for ‘pretty,’ but like mesquite and huisache, they’re ours, and we love them. (Well: except for that danged cedar pollen.)

  4. Beautiful set of shots, you have such a good eye! Like you, I think central Texas winter forms and shades are lovely: softer, demanding of attention, but stunning in subtlety and quiet.

    1. I was so lucky to have picked a weekend that was pure Texas pleasure, weather-wise. Blue skies, no wind, moderate temperatures, and no humidity — perfect for just hanging around and admiring the world. To be honest, I’d never really thought about photographing the moon in daytime, but it certainly did turn out nicely — there’s always a surprise!

      Speaking of surprises, I have a pine warbler coming to my feeders. That’s been an unexpected treat.

    1. It does seem to melt away as the sunlight increases. It’s a good reminder that some phenomena require time to be appreciated. One glance never tells the whole story! I like your use of the word ‘ethereal’ — it really seems to fit.

    1. Well, I’m fairly sure he didn’t, and I suspect that, if he had, he wouldn’t have cared one whit that I divided his words for my own purposes. I always remember this, one of my favorite quotations from his work: “If it ain’t a pleasure, it ain’t a poem.” He would have liked that his poem was a pleasure for so many of us.

  5. Fun framing, Linda. It was nice of the trees and the moon to cooperate. I’ve always thought the day-time moon can be quite dramatic in the right setting. Happy New Year! –Curt

    1. I’d play it the other way — I was the one cooperating with the moon and the trees. You’re right that daytime moons can be dramatic, but you should have seen our moonrise tonight. By the time the clouds started scudding in, it disappeared, but it was fabulously full as it rose.

    1. Isn’t it great? I really liked the twigginess. I hope you weren’t clouded in and saw the moonrise tonight. I caught it just above the horizon as I was coming home — got to see it from the top of the Hwy 146 bridge.

    1. It was great fun looking for trees to serve as frames. It surprised me that so many species of trees were growing in such a small area. Some worked better than others, of course. I think some of Williams’s shorter poems are just great, and this always has been a favorite.

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