There are times when winter can really be depressing. Days on end of cloudy, gray skies. Darkness when you wake up in the morning and when you eat supper at night. Gardens empty of blooms, littered with dried up leaves blown about in wind storms.

And then you have a day like this:

It’s one of the things I love about living in the South. Sunshine and blue skies. While they don’t come every single day, at least we get them year round.

I love how the winter months give us the opportunity to see the stark beauty of the trees and shrubs without the fluff of their summer foliage. Out in plain view is the majestic structure that provides life-giving nutrients to the leaves each spring.

When I was the editor of Carolina Gardener magazine, we ran a story about winter beauty in the garden every year. Sometimes it focused on shrubs that have berries in the winter, sometimes it was about those beautiful camellia bushes that bloom from November through February, depending on the type, and sometimes it was about yard art and sculptures that add interest in a garden where perennials have been cut back and annuals dug up.

One story that really struck a chord with me focused on the trees and shrubs that have interesting bark in the winter. Up until then I had never thought to choose a plant for my garden based on its stems or trunk. I’d always looked at the blooms and the foliage. I credit that article for changing the way I look at plants in the winter. I have a new appreciation for the different colored bark of crape myrtles and the bright red stems of red twig dogwood.

Just think about how great our appreciation for other things might be if we could see the beauty hiding underneath, making everything work.

— The circuit board of a computer, where shiny wires transmit amazing amounts of information.

— The felt-covered hammers hitting wires within a grand piano that produce beautiful music.

— Our own body’s amazing skeletal system that keeps us upright and moves our muscles every waking moment of the day.

It makes me think of how my grandmother used to say, “It’s not what’s on the outside that counts, it’s what’s on the inside.” Words we should all live by, in every season.