In the Savoie region of eastern France, in the heart of the Alps, Simon Beck spends hours a day on snowshoes. He is enjoying the beauty of nature, yes, but is also engaged in a particular form of collaboration with nature. Beck and Mother Nature are co-creators of an ephemeral art: nature provides the landscape and the snow, and Beck provides the mathematics and the legwork to fill acres of land with geometric patterns that might last more than a week, or might not make it through a night. And then he takes pictures.
The one above is from last week. You can see many more on his Facebook page. He'd like to eventually produce Christmas cards and a coffee table book featuring photos of his snow art.
But look at the detail. This isn't the work of someone whose focus is on "someday" having a book. This is someone who loves to be outdoors, loves the winter, and loves what he can do with snowshoes.
He came by the skills long ago. Beck, who lives in England during the non-winter months, earned an engineering degree from Oxford University in 1979, and works as an orienteering mapmaker. He used to be active in the sport of orienteering, and it was during a break while training in 2004 that he discovered the fun of snow art. When the onset of chronic foot trouble made it difficult for him to compete any longer, the snow art became a form of therapy: it allowed him to use his compass skills, get exercise up to the limit his feet allowed, and enjoy the winter weather in the Alps of eastern France.
You can find many more photos on his Facebook page. Photos such as the one below, taken last week. Go take a look. And then go spend some time outside this week. No matter whether it's warm or cold, green or snowy, there is much to enjoy. Let yourself be inspired! And if you carry a compass, who knows where your steps may lead....