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Admiring Winter Trees

By Lois O'Brian

Buffalo, NY – When I stand in Delaware Park on the crest of the hill just behind the rose garden and look out across Hoyt Lake at the little hills on the other side, each gracefully outlined in trees and shrubs, I am glad I live in Buffalo. In the summer its shades of green are beautiful. In the winter the bare brown sticks against the white background are magnificent.

I thank Sylvia Plath for her title ?Winter Trees?. Although I don?t share the sentiments of her poem, the expression ?winter trees? has been a regular part of my vocabulary since first reading it in college. Summer is my favorite season with its lush greens and warmth, but a winter tree has a beauty all its own. The row of them placed so perfectly along the tops of the low rolling hills on the far side of the lake from Shakespeare Hill make me wonder if Frederick Law Olmstead placed each one of them himself.

In winter as I stand atop Shakespeare hill waiting my turn for the sled, I like to turn around and see the low afternoon sun slanting through the winter trees across the level stretch of park out to the corner of Lincoln Parkway and Rumsey Road. No leafy tree could be more beautiful.

Last winter when my family of five was down to two snow tubes, gazing before me and behind me to pass the time between slides was no longer enough. I needed to embrace the beauty of the park. I set off walking, my goal to circle the lake. With a foot of snow on the ground it wasn?t easy, but the solution was clear ? clearly defined in the tracks of the cross country skis that I followed.

Having grown up in a mid-atlantic state where snow was at a premium, I had never skied. But I knew that would be the way to commune with Frederick Law Olmstead?s legacy. The next week my entire family visited the local used sporting goods shop and is now outfitted to meet the winter and eek the utmost beauty out of Buffalo?s Delaware Park.

The wet dawn inks are doing their blue dissolve. On their blotter of fog the trees Seem a botanical drawing, says Sylvia Plath.

On my skis I can enter that drawing and ski among the trees. My many walks through Delaware Park could not bring me close to enough of those inky trees. The skis satisfy me.

I grew up in a climate where the summer is intense and the winter mild. It is fitting that the spot in Buffalo that keeps me from missing those early springs and hot summer nights is at its best in winter.

Lois O'Brian lives in the town of Tonawanda.