This spring I painted an image of Denali in early September, one year when snowfall drove me from Denali National Park earlier than I had intended. This image is of the mountain just a few weeks later--not really winter, as the light is still strong enough to cast sharp shadows and there are still bare spots on the mountainsides, but the light has become more wintry, the days shorter, and winter's arrival is much more obviously inexorable.
I've always been fascinated by the onset of winter, by the way its coming may differ from year to year, but is so inevitable. As the occasional snows become more regular, the days shorten, and light gradually fades, the world seems to hold its breath, bracing for the deep cold. Winter holds sway more than half the year in Interior Alaska, and the heraldry of its annual arrival is both ominous and beautiful.
It may be just my imagination, but it seems to me that the weather often changes right at daybreak. Snow ends, or begins, just as night turns to day. It's a magical hour in any case, with the first rays of direct light illuminating the forest, and when the dawn is accompanied by parting clouds and the snowfall gives way to blue sky, I always think it's like an epiphany.