One of the things I am grateful for this time of year is the quietude of natural areas. Once the sun stops warming swimming holes, school sports begin, and the rain starts up it becomes what I call, The Empty Season. While everyone else tucks into winter movies, cups of eggnog and holiday parties I make a mad dash to all of the most popular attractions and trails, abandoned for the year. I am thankful for the changing light, the increased views through now-fallen foliage, the special kind of quiet that comes from decreased traffic. It is cold, to be sure, also often wet, and the short days make for dark drives. But to have the trail to yourself, to enjoy a cup of tea at the base of a raging winter falls, to breathe the crisp winter air, and witness the last of the migrating flocks- to refuse to lose one’s connection to the natural world for six months a year- surely it outweighs the weather?