This was the background for last year's Christmas letter. It's lightened and adjusted in contrast to give a soft image. Some trial and error is necessary to get a level of color that won't detract from the writing. I print in draft mode to get a lighter print than this looks here. Draft mode saves some ink, too.
The picture is of blazing star in bud. Maybe it gets the "scaly" part of its name from the bud. The rose-colored scales look like petals here, but after blue flowers grow out of the buds, the bud scales become the basal portion of the flowers.
The winter has been about average so far here in the Midwest. Plenty of snow and cold weather, but no really bad storms. If anything is exceptional, it's been all the sunny weather here. My sympathy to those in the south-east and south-central states who have gotten a lot more cold and snow than they are used to.
Burning wood has kept the heating bill down a bit, but it would be nice if fuel wasn't so high. I have a feeling that prices won't get any better, though. I've tried other things to help on energy. Had a 2 Kw windmill once, but it wouldn't keep running, and had to climb a 45-foot tower every time it needed work. Now I have a 400 w unit for charging batteries at the barn if the wind is blowing above 20 mph - that's maybe 10% of the time. It has a spruce prop, and seems to have soaked up some water on one side. Started shaking the whole barn from being out of balance. The prop is down now to dry out. I'll balance it and give it another coat of epoxy paint when it's dry.
I've had solar lights and solar battery chargers, too, but none of them lasted more than a few years. If I lived in the desert where there's plenty of sun, I think I'd give solar another chance. The newer ones may be better. Firewood is the only alternative (renewable) energy source that has had a payback for me so far.
Days are getting longer. I'm looking for spring.