Warm Days in Winter

In the South, we do have many warm days during our winter months. One of my favorite things to do is to take a stroll out in the woods, especially in the winter. Within our forests there are always dramatic changes happening within- from blossoms and the new growth of spring, to the glorious long hours and sun-drenched days of summer, to the vivid colors and dancing leaf fall of autumn, to the clear, crisp, bare days of winter – the forest is forever evolving!

But, the winter months are the best time for folks to get out and literally “see the forest through the trees”. Once the trees have dropped their leaf cover it is much easier to see beyond the forest itself. You can actually see “through” the woods and will spot things you would not otherwise notice at other times of the year, often discovering new things along the same path you’ve traveled many times before.

The remnants of a rock wall? A mysterious rock formation?

To get the best sense of all the assets a property has to offer, it will take walking the land again and again. As you become more familiar with the land, it will become evident as to where you will want to place your home, where the driveway will go, where the gardens will be located, the play areas, the work areas, where the ideal placement for the entrance will be, etc. With winter typically being the wettest time of year it is usually simple to spot the low areas that don’t drain well and can be boggy. These areas should be ascertained, so they can be avoided if desired, or enhanced and turned into interesting features that can be accentuated by creating a pond or even a bog garden filled with venus fly traps. 

I have witnessed the siting of the “perfect” homesite being foiled by timely leaf drop when only months earlier it had been deemed to be the most exquisite building site on the property. It’s disappointing to come back and discover an undesirable view or a land impediment that had previously been obscured, or suddenly viewing another home close by that was hidden by tree cover earlier. Bummer, but better to discover this now than later – when it’s too late to shift gears.

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A house peeks out from behind the trees, likely not as obvious during other seasons.

A warm day in winter is the perfect time of year to get to know land. It really is the best time to get out and explore, in order to get the real essence of what a property offers. Another advantage of walking land in the wintertime is there are no worries of marching through sticky spider webs or having to check for ticks, swatting at mosquitoes and gnats, running through poison ivy, stepping on a snake, walking into briars, or swallowing bugs! Just relax and experience the lay of the land, the curvatures of the property, the size of the trees, the smell of the grass, the streams, the moss, the cliffs, the lowlands, the bluffs, the outcroppings of rock, all contributing to the future possibilities and to the full potential the property consists of- just waiting to be discovered and brought to full fruition.

Yes, a warm day in winter is second to none when it comes to enjoying a walk in the woods. In the still of winter, your senses are heightened not only with distant bird song but with unblemished sights of the birds themselves. You can also spot untold evidence of other animals taking care of their young, seeing clearly through the winter landscape without fear of stepping into their habitats.

Every time I get out in the woods my imagination takes off. I start envisioning a driveway winding through the woods with the most exhilarating approach to the new homesite. The driveway would curl around a huge tree and skirt a small stream by crossing over a bridge, continuing around bends to a sunny opening, greeted by specimen plants and cool sculptures, and a quick gaze of a water feature as you round the last bend finally getting the first glimpse of this amazing setting hosting a home with a commanding view. Seems my love of stonework and architecture is always present as I walk down trails or through the woods, spying the perfect homesite and ideally shaped stones for designing and building my client’s new dream home.

A stream winds alongside a trail on land in Chatham County.

I like to explore all options by keeping an open mind and contemplating the endless possibilities on each of my visits to a property to see what feels right. On each parcel of land, I am always asking if the new ideas will fit well into the overall puzzle? If so, I make a note and continue planning until the picture is complete and the client is exuberant with the results. 

Winter is definitely the quintessential time in order for one to truly see what a property has to offer. Whether a person is looking for land to build on, for pure fun and enjoyment, or for investment purposes, the key to finding out how it all fits together best is to walk the land multiple times, in all seasons, especially in the winter. This helps solidify your thoughts on everything from the best placement of the home, to the approach getting there, to finding the potential and taking advantage of the property’s best assets along the way. Yes, I love land and am always glad to be out in the woods in my sanctuary. I even went camping in the mountains for Thanksgiving. It was spectacular and the weather happened to be incredible for hiking the many trails. After hiking around and exploring the woods around Wiseman’s View, I am now envisioning a mountain cabin, hugging a cliff and looking out to a long-distance view with the river below, and the sounds of a refreshing waterfall just off the back porch …

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