Finding joy in winter

Project Optimist readers and staff marvel at the beauty of winter.

Finding joy in winter
"I found my favorite way to enjoy winter is by capturing the beauty of it," wrote Danie Powell. Powell took this photo overlooking Mille Lacs Lake on Jan. 16, 2024 at Cedar Creek Public Access in Isle, Minn. (Courtesy of Danie Powell)

I have always loved snow.

The sometimes brutal cold can be tough to deal with at times, but every year I marvel at how a few inches of snow change the landscape from the brown, barren, and necessary decay of fall to one that feels crisp and clean.

The sometimes biting cold makes me hyperaware of my surroundings. Snow lights up the sky on a clear night, twinkling like diamonds if the moon is shining.

Even the simple act of breathing is made visible.

But perhaps my favorite part is the quiet. The stillness is almost its own kind of music.

It turns out I'm not alone in marveling at the beauty of winter. After Project Optimist founder Nora Hertel introduced our new Biophilia project, we received several submissions from readers and staff, so we decided to put together an extra newsletter and post this week. Check out the lead image above and more images below! Thanks to those who contributed!

And if you feel so inclined, please consider sending us a submission. Email a photo you captured to social media storyteller Erica Dischino at, along with a brief description of the scene, including when and where the image was taken. You can also share through Instagram: just make a post and tag us

A bonfire under the light of the moon.
A bonfire is seen under the light of the moon on Dec. 21, 2023, during the winter solstice celebration at NorthHouse Folk School in Grand Marais, Minn. (Courtesy of Tom McCann)
Houses are seen along the shoreline of a lake with open water in December in Minnesota.
Kathy Parkin enjoys taking walks in winter, as long as conditions aren't too harsh. She took this photo of an ice-free Pleasant Lake in Annandale, Minn. on Dec. 29, 2023. "Weather like this makes for pleasant winter walks, yet I am sad for all the winter activities that are not able to be enjoyed," she wrote. (Courtesy of Kathy Parkin)
Woman smiles while cross-country skiing on a snowy lake.
Nancy Haarmeyer smiles while skiing on Bearskin Lake. (Courtesy of Tom McCann)
A snowperson is dressed with cedar boughs and other natural elements.
A snowperson stands for all to enjoy on Friday, Jan. 26, 2024, at Lincoln Park in Duluth, Minn. (Erica Dischino for Project Optimist)

The Biophilia series is funded by a grant from Arts Midwest. We are grateful for their support!

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