Walking In A Winter Wonderland

It’s the end of another year.

And the beginning of another winter.


Although the days are getting longer, many months of cold and icy weather lie ahead…

Today I am visiting my sisters and nephews in upstate NY, where a flow of air from the Arctic has lowered the temperature to the single digits.


At least once a day we bundle up and tromp with the dogs through fields and woods, observing nature in a somewhat frozen, dormant state.

Ponds are covered with ice and snow.


Creeks are mostly a cascade of ice, with an occasional hint of water still flowing underneath.


Crows fly overhead.

We see many animal tracks in the snow — rabbits and deer and something very large (a bear?) which is stepped on by one of the dogs before we can correctly identify it.


Woodpeckers and blue jays and cardinals and chickadees and sparrows and finches visit the bird feeder.

How any animal manages to stay alive during the long winter months amazes me.

The nights are SO COLD with a breeze to make it feel even colder.


I made this recording of “Winter Wonderland” with Doug Hammer at his studio in Lynn, MA, many summers ago.

It is another great winter holiday song written or co-written by a Jewish lyricist or composer.

In this case the composer, Felix Bernard, was Jewish.


Born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1897, his father was a violinist from Germany while his mother was Russian. His family spoke Yiddish at home.

Felix worked as a pianist on the American vaudeville circuits, and also performed in Europe. Like many other composers (including Jerome Kern and George Gershwin) he worked at one point for a music publishing company, and eventually formed his own dance band.


According to historian Nate Bloom, he also “wrote special musical programs for leading singers of his day, including Sophie Tucker, Eddie Cantor, Al Jolson, and Nora Bayes (all of whom were Jewish).”

Unfortunately he died when he was only 47 years old.

Deep breath in.

Deep breath out.


Wikipedia tells us that Richard Smith — an Episcopalian — was inspired to write the lyrics for “Winter Wonderland” after seeing the Central Park in Honesdale, PA (his hometown) covered in snow.

He contracted tuberculosis in 1931 and died at Lenox Hill Hospital in NYC in 1935 — just a year after “Winter Wonderland” was published and recorded.

He was only 34 years old.


Another deep breath in.

And out.


I love the melody of “Winter Wonderland” and agree with the lyrics — winter IS a great time for hoping and dreaming about the future.

What will 2018 hold for the astounding and intricate web of life on our planet — of which we humans are only one thread?


Sometimes it seems like we human beings are an enormously successful invasive species — ignorant of our place in the web of life and daily ignoring the balances which must remain in effect between plants, animals, decomposers, microbes, etc. for all to flourish.


Why do we human beings devote hours and hours and hours of our lives to watching (or listening to) seemingly endless amounts of news, commentary and speculation — as well as entertainment in the form of sports contests, TV shows, movies, web-videos, etc?


Why do so many of us choose to live so many hours of our precious lives transfixed by an electricity-powered, screen-delivered deluge of images and words and ideas and stories and opinions and advertisements?


There are so many more important things we could be doing — or NOT doing — which would actually be helping re-balance some part of life on planet earth which is currently out of balance.


We could be sitting still and breathing.


We could be helping someone else learn a new language or a new skill.


We could be singing or dancing or maybe even making music with friends and family.


We could be walking outside in a winter wonderland, gazing at trees and sky and earth.

Perhaps in 2018 more of us can choose to put down our phones, ignore our Facebook feeds, turn off our devices, and simply be with ourselves — and with the natural world — on a regular basis.


As 2017 fades away…

Here’s to a sense of flow!


Here’s to singing!

Here’s to consuming fewer natural resources!


Here’s to health!

Here’s to friends!


Here’s to family — human, animal, plant, fungal, microbial!


Here’s to hope and faith and patience and perseverance!


Here’s to life!


Here’s to love!


And here’s to you for reading and listening to another blog post!

Thank you for your participation with my blog in 2017.

Thank you, too, to my sister Christianne for letting me use a few of her lovely photographs — taken during current and past winter walks.


A healthy, happy, well-balanced, low-impact, music-filled, surprisingly-satisfied New Year to you!

38 thoughts on “Walking In A Winter Wonderland

  1. Hi Will. I so enjoyed your sister’s wintry images. They are quite wonderful. Your daily walks sound invigorating. I also enjoyed the informative and imaginative paths you led my mind along on. I wish you a long, happy weekend of endings and beginnings.

  2. Will, Thank you for this blog post. And for your sister’s beautiful pictures. Winter with its ice and snow is a magical time of year. Reading your blog has reminded me of that, looking at the amazing photos of winter, snow, green growing things, frozen water, dripping icicles, animals, the season of form. Reading your blog is a chance to stop and breathe in, breathe out. It has been a few years since I participated in your music class, with Conrad (now 5+ years). I do not see him as much as I once did but our last visit together was like every other – full of delight. In one day we rode three city buses, two red line trips, and one green line trip. And we walked. It was the best day ever – for both 5 year old (Conrad) and this 75-year old (me). Thanks for the music memories. Best wishes for the New Year, Jeanne Cronin

    • Yeah!!! Three city busses, two red line trips AND a green line trip plus walking… Sounds like a heavenly time with dear Conrad. THANK YOU for reading and listening and thinking and savoring my sister’s photos. She just gave me permission to access her entire database of photos from the past several years; so I am looking forward to incorporating more of her visually inspired points of view and perspectives in future posts. Please say “hi” to Conrad and his lovely family on my behalf!!! You remain a lovely inspiration to me of what is possible.

  3. Outstanding Will and Christianne 👏! A beautiful transition into 2018, which will be an awesome year. Happy New Year 😍☮️

  4. Such a hopeful, sensible, readable post for a new year, Will! You integrated your sister’s great photos beautifully and your words buoy me. 2017 was trying in so many ways–I’m with you in welcoming 2018!

  5. THANK YOU for continuing to read and listen, KerryCan! You are in upstate NY, right? And near a great lake??? Did you get some of the 4 feet of snow I read about regarding Erie, PA? I don’t understand hope — “the thing with feathers” — very well except to have a sense that without it, life somehow starts to collapse and shut down and veer into unhappy and possibly dangerous territory… And a tiny bit of it seems to suffice to keep our spirits alive and our courage intact. And it seems to be an important part of visioning and dreaming into the future… And the times when there seem to be no reasons to be hopeful may indeed be one of the most important times doggedly to keep some small (or not so small) sliver or chunk of hope aflame. So let us start a new year with at least a dollop of hopefulness!

  6. Thank you for the music, the beautiful thoughts, and the beautiful pictures. So many of them stood out to me — unusual shapes created by snow, lichen, chickens. The chickens made me chuckle. They, at least, feel no pull from a cellphone!

    • Thank YOU for reading so faithfully, dear suzannesmom! I realized after I had selected the photos for this blog post that I had neglected to mention my sister’s extraordinarily vital flock of Australorp chickens, who manage to stay healthy even when the temperatures go below zero (!!) overnight. Blessedly they have not yet discovered cellphones or new media or electricity! My sister allows them to respond to the pull of the seasons — with no artificial light to influence their egg-laying behavior. Right now they are laying almost no eggs — but as the days get longer and warmer that will begin to change…

  7. Beautiful — we think alike.

    “Here’s to love!” You provided a brilliant build up to that — the words and images preceding it prepare us for an incredibly poignant effect. It brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for the beauty, the love, the music.

    Here’s to 2018, the year of authenticity?

  8. PS. I really enjoyed the new-to-me lyrics like the lead-in and bit about the circus clown. And Doug’s interlude (is it called a “bridge”?) was great. Makes me wonder what other songs we hear all the time have been dumbed down to the point that we no longer really *hear* them.

    • The circus clown lyrics (in the bridge section of the song) are usually sung AFTER the Parson Brown lyrics (if one runs through the entire form of the song twice, as we did). I, too, love what Doug plays during his solo. The form of the song is verse section + two A sections of chorus + one B section (aka bridge) + another A section + Doug solo over two A sections + another B section + final A section with a triple tag of final phrase “walking in a winter wonderland.”

  9. Dear Will, What a wonderful,soothing,interpretation of the song that compliments the pictures perfectly. I am going to forward it to friends

    • Thanks for reading and listening, Kevin! The entire eastern seaboard of the US is experiencing a winter wonderland in recent days. And thank you for sharing with others, too!

  10. dear Will (and Christianne!), what a beautiful collaboration that was. Even as I was reading your words about maybe putting the screen away and going outside ourselves, I was thankful that the screen and cameras existed so that your words and those images could be shared with me. Big love to you on this blizzardy day! Neige >

    • THANKS for reading and listening on this super snowy day!!! I am heading out to shovel right now, and then I will do some walking in the winter wonderland of East Arlington…

  11. Well sweet man, I just looked through the photos, marvelous! I also spend much of my time out enjoying nature, it reinforces my philosophy of why I’m here in this physical plane of existence which is to learn to love myself more completely in order to then love all of creation.

  12. There are so many more important things we could be doing — or NOT doing — which would actually be helping re-balance some part of life on planet earth which is currently out of balance.

    So true!

  13. I would give anything to see snow like that again and for my kids to experience it! I grew up in the north where every winter was like the pictures you showed… now in the south I’ve seen snow twice… but I keep praying to see it again!

    • It is a very cool thing that water can do — turn into snow and ice! And something that every human being might want to experience in person! However, by February or March, I am ready for it to melt…

  14. Pingback: We Need A Little Christmas! – amusicalifeonplanetearth

    • Thank you. I am indebted to my older sister, who took them on her walks around our family’s farm in upstate, NY. Thank you, too, for finding time to read and listen to this blog post! Today it is rainy and gray where I live near Boston, MA. It was invigorating to re-read this post (which I haven’t done since I posted it) and savor all of the snow from two winters ago… Her beloved black lab mix, Stella, is still joining the hikes — and will jump into any freezing cold water she can find! — although she is getting older and starting to slow down a bit these days…

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