Photo Spread: Wintertime in Wisconsin - Finding Beauty in Bleakness

Wisconsin winters demonstrate the remarkable resilience of the state’s residents, bipedal and otherwise. Heavy snowfalls, chilling temperatures, and unrelenting stretches of gray skies test both the physical and psychological endurance of Wisconsinites. As a child, I anxiously awaited the onset of winter, knowing that with it came holidays, outdoor activities like ice skating and skiing, and a distinct seasonal coziness. Growing up in Wisconsin’s capital city of Madison, every winter endowed my hometown with an ethereal beauty. Some of my fondest childhood memories were waking up to the sight of my street transformed overnight by a fresh coat of deep snow, and receiving the desperately awaited news that school had been cancelled, leaving me free to explore the veritable blank slate that lay beyond my door. On those days I would spend hours marauding through the empty streets with neighborhood friends, waist-deep in snow and perfectly content.

As with so many aspects of life, growing older drained winter of its magic, turning deep snow into an obstacle for my daily commute, gray skies into a catalyst for depression, and my December birthday into a bitter reminder of the widening gap between my carefree childhood and my adult life filled with unavoidable responsibilities. As time went on, I came to dread the desolate season, and by the end of high school, winter had become my least favorite time of year. My distaste for winter went hand in hand with my growing frustration at living in Madison, until I made up my mind to pursue college out of state. After a semester spent at Berkeley, my aversion to winter and my home state began to dissipate, as I longed for the seasonal changes that I’d unknowingly relied on to define the stages of my early life. Returning home over winter break, I resolved to gain a new appreciation for winter, hoping to recapture some of my childhood wonderment. In putting together this photo spread, I searched for instances of beauty within the desolate winter landscapes of my home state. While I’ll never have the tolerance for cold I once did, and though some Wisconsin winter days still struck me with an unshakable melancholy, my time spent in the comparatively seasonless California renewed my appreciation for my Midwestern home, and its harshest and most distinctive season.

Photo SpreadsHenry DeMarco