Winter Ocean

winter ocean

There’s a certain beauty to a winter ocean. It’s a desolate beauty: one that makes you feel.

winter ocean

winter ocean

The wind is strong enough to push you along. Flying seems possible with open arms. Once the cold sucks all the air out of you, a warm numbness takes over. The sand blasts your face. No matter how tired you might be, a visit to a winter ocean will always wake you up.

snow art

It’s not the one sunbathers worship. It doesn’t comfort. As raw and brutal as nature can be, it challenges. In meeting that challenge to walk along its shores, you’re rewarded with a new appreciation for life. The beauty of a winter ocean leaves you breathless.

winter ocean walk

Have you ever walked along the ocean in freezing temperatures? What kind of beauty takes your breath away?

87 thoughts on “Winter Ocean

  1. I love the images of snow and sand; it seems so magical and surreal in a way. I rarely get a chance to visit the beach during the winter but the solitude there is wonderful.

    • I love looking at the snow and sand too – it creates such abstract art and it’s always different. There’s definitely enough solitude there to fully appreciate everything, if only for the few minutes that you can stand to be there. Come on down and I’ll show you how invigorating it can be!

    • Yes! Then it really wakes you up. These waves were a little too gentle. They must have been stunned into silence by the cold. The one of the snow is my favorite too because it seems like the snow painted a picture there.

  2. I’ve not been to the beach in winter. The closest I came to a cold beach was Cape Cod for a conference in late October. There’s definitely a quiet beauty (and a degree of melancholy) to a deserted shoreline.

    • Very true! The only sound was the wind through my ears as it blew my thoughts around. I agree hot chocolate makes everything better and always helps to melt the frozen feelings away.

  3. Love the beach in all seasons for the most part – love having my coat turn into a cape and I get a $150 to $300 blowout on the hair for FREE! Loving your captures – dreaming of the beach now:) Happy Day.

  4. I’m not a fan of being outside in the winter but these pictures are beautiful and you make it sound like a wonderful experience … at least for 5 – 10 minutes. Any more than that and my fingers and toes would go numb and I’d be running to that house trying to pull the boards off to get in. Now if I were in that house with a nice fire going enjoying the beach from the window … that I could enjoy! 🙂

    • Hahah! I can picture you trying to pull those boards off just for the promise of some warmth. It is pretty crazy that most of the houses on the beach are boarded up. I guess they don’t want to be out there in the freezing cold either but a roaring fire with a view does sound nice!

  5. I’ve never seen a winter ocean, but I love your pictures. If I was bundled up good, I would love to see those scenes in real life. Brrrrrr!

    • This way you can see it all without the cold wind sandblasting your face. 🙂 It’s funny what a wasteland it becomes in the winter because not many people are crazy enough to go out there into that wind.

  6. Beautiful photos once again Sheila. Yet, one can never go wrong with the sea. The Mediterranean is not quite so cold or barren. Until April it is still filled with Flamingos as it is their nesting grounds.
    Have you ever seen a film called The Winter Guest? It stars Emma Thompson and her mother and takes place in Scotland. The sea is frozen. It is an amazing film on several levels and I think you would enjoy it. It was released in the 1990’s I believe and well worth the time of tracking it down.

    • Thank you! I haven’t seen it and will make sure to look it up. I’m always looking for good movies and books. It must be wonderful seeing the flamingoes visit. There aren’t many birds that stick around here, but it always feels like a celebration when they return. That’s true that there’s so much to love about the ocean, wherever we are.

  7. I’m lucky enough to live by the sea and a winter seascape is my favourite view of it. Walking along the beach when it looks just like your photos connects me in a greater way to our world than in the summer. lovely photos.

    • Yes, it’s easier to feel that connection when you’re out there alone with only the waves and the sky. I hope you gets lots of winter walks in before summer!

  8. I’ve been along the coast in Maine in winter. I shuddered at the thought of falling in the water when we crossed over to the island. Bitter winds. The feeling that life had gone underground.

    The winter beach in San Francisco is far different. Some days, it’s more like summer. Other days, the wind can freeze your ear canals and produce excruciating headaches.

    But neither of these produces the feeling of isolation shown in your photos. There was a book I read a lonnnnnngggg time ago about a woman who house sat for someone in the winter–perhaps on Martha’s Vineyard? or the Cape? and kept a journal to assess her life and decide whether or not to kill herself. I can’t recall the name of the book right now, but your photos capture the feeling that reading her book gave me. Does that make sense?

    • Hahah! Yes but I hope they don’t give anyone any suicidal thoughts. 🙂 It was pretty desolate out there. That constant cold wind keeps everyone away but then that helps to make it feel more magical. I’ve read a book about someone housesitting on Martha’s Vineyard but I don’t remember anything in it about deciding whether or not to kill herself (but maybe I’ve blocked that out by now because it was a long time ago when I read it too). Mostly, it made me want to bake brownies because there was a part in there about how they could make the house smell so good.

  9. There is something so powerful about walking along the beach on a winters day, Sheila – it’s almost romantic as you feel the energy of every other person in history who has walked that beach and seen that grey ocean 😉

    My favourite here (and it’s hard to choose) is the fourth picture with the fence – WOW! 😀

    • That’s my favorite too. It’s amazing that snow can create such art. I know exactly what you mean about walking the beach and feeling that energy. I love visualizing those people who came before us and I think we can still connect with them in some ways. Now you’ve got me dreaming of them. 🙂

  10. Sheila Im loving these pictures, I have only ever seen snow on the beach in New Zealand. Such a wonderful experience. your photo’s have a purity within them a certain vulnerability that I love.

    • Thanks Kath! I’m glad you could walk along with me and feel those things too. The resiliency of the beach is amazing. The sand dunes keep changing and reshaping themselves through the seasons.

  11. Those photos and your words had me shivering. 😉 I’ve been to the Atlantic Ocean in Delaware on a horribly windy winter’s day. My husband and I lasted about five minutes before we ducked back into the car! We’ve also spent many a winter day walking along Lake Michigan in Wisconsin, which is where he grew up. There was usually some ice, but nothing like the 90 percent coverage they’re currently seeing!

    • Just what you wanted to see, right? More snow! 🙂 I’ve walked along Lake Michigan in the winter too and that probably wins for the harshest environment I’ve ever experienced. I hadn’t heard about the 90 percent coverage though – that’s amazing! My dad lives in MI and I’ve seen pictures of people out on that ice looking like Arctic explorers with icebergs in the background. Hearing about all that ice almost makes me want to go check it out.

  12. Beautiful pictures Sheila. We’re fortunate to live close to a beautiful coastline and winter is my favourite time to visit – there’s something about being scoured by the wind and the cold with the wild sea beside you – and also fewer people around.

    • Thanks Andrea! That’s true – that scouring can really wake a person up. I hope you get many more walks in before the summer.

  13. Sheila, I went to the ocean on my birthday in November and walked with my feet in the water. It was freezing and invigorating. I love the fall/winter ocean. 🙂

    • Hahah – I wasn’t tempted to stick my feet in during this walk. I’ll probably never be able to be a polar bear. That’s great that you were adventurous enough to do that!

      • I couldn’t do the polar bear thing either. 🙂 Thanks. More stubborn. I wanted to walk in the ocean on my birthday so come hell or frigid water, I was doing it. BTW, I reached out to 4 libraries in Cape Cod about an event this summer. Hoping one of them gets back to me. 🙂

  14. I’m a wimp. I think the ocean looks beautiful in wintertime, but I can’t be out there when it’s freezing cold! I’m not much of an outdoors person, period, when temperatures are below 20 degrees. But, your pictures are lovely regardless. 🙂

    • Thanks Kate! This way you can enjoy the winter ocean without the freezing cold and whipping wind. Just a few more months and maybe we’ll even be able to go swimming out there.

  15. I live in Florida, so winter and spring are the best times for the ocean or gulf beaches. Summertime is too hot here, at least for me. I’ve never seen the ocean beach in true winter weather, except for in your lovely photos. Thanks for sharing them.

    • Florida sounds good right about now! 🙂 I do love how peaceful it is here in the winter though too, as long as there’s lots of hot chocolate around to warm up any numb fingers.

    • Cats are probably happier spending the winter curled up by the fire. I hope you’ll get to do some more of that when you get back from camp. Love you! xo

  16. Wow, doll! These are stunning. Of course, it is freaking freezing again here, so…brrr. : )

    We have a few beachy parts by Lake Michigan here, but I haven’t been over there to investigate sand/snow combinations. I have gone to our favorite park for wintry walks with Mr. H and enjoyed the surroundings there, treacherous as they are since the sidewalks are layered with ice. The stark contrast of my seasonal memories at our park is so beautiful though, how the same place continues to change under nature’s commands.

    • Thanks Britt! I should probably find some tropical pictures to warm you up instead. I’ve seen some crazy Lake Michigan photos lately that look like the Arctic so if you go there for the snow and sand art, make sure to wear your Arctic explorer survival suit (and kittywampus hat of course)! It’s true that any walk is different because everything’s always changing out there. Spring should be on the way soon – love and hugs!

  17. What incredible pictures Sheila. But as I gaze at them , I seem to sense a positivity in all that starkness and desolateness of the environment. Why is that I wonder?


    • Thanks Shakti! Sorry I’ve been away for a while and just saw your msg. It’s true that beauty can be found everywhere (or in any crazy season). Sometimes we have to look for it, but it’s there.

  18. Gorgeous! I have been walking on the beach in Galveston this week and am glad to say there is no snow. I think it is small unexpected beauty that impacts me the most. Bright blue beetles, seconds of humming birds…and lightning! I adore lightning.

    • Yes! I love stumbling on the unexpected too. I’m looking forward to springtime storms. Thanks so much for visiting and sorry I haven’t been around lately. I’ve been a bit frozen and need some of that lightning to wake me up!

  19. The beauty of the sea always takes my breath away! However, I must confess to wanting to swim out into her embrace! Beautiful shots Sheila!
    The winds along the Med can be very strong. 🙂

    • I love it too and I’m glad we share that love. Sticking a toe in might be enough for now. It might be swimmable by June if we’re lucky. 🙂 I hope you’ll get to dive in before then!

  20. I love the ocean in the winter… my dad lived on the beach for about 7 years, and I loved visiting him in the winter months. It was so quiet and peaceful, and had a such an understated beauty.

    • That’s great that you were able to do that. I love the peacefulness of the winter ocean too – as long as the crazy wind doesn’t make it too difficult to stay out there! You might like The Outermost House by Henry Beston if you haven’t read that one yet. It describes living at the ocean for a year and might bring more of those memories back.

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