It was past dark, but then again dark had come a bit earlier today. The steady snow and grey skies had shadowed out the sun before it had fully set. Neighbors and co-workers alike were speculating about the potency of the storm. On the roads, flurries had quickly accumulated. From highways to town roads, the plows couldn't quite keep up. Arriving home, my little vehicle valiantly made it through the unplowed snow of the last few hundred feet to where we park. I was hopeful that I'd be able to extricate myself as easily the following morning.
From here, though, is where the real charm of the snow begins. By headlamp, I stepped my way through the snow, left right left right, the third of a mile to our property and into the drifted clearing around the cabin. Beauty. And such silent noise.
It's akin to walking between two worlds, joined by the tunnel of our path. The elegance of the evening's snow and shades of grey fill the senses. There is the whispered cacophony of thousands, millions, billions of flurries blanketing the hillocks and tussocks of our woods. The heavy, muffled plops of hemlock boughs throwing snowballs to the ground drown out the creaking of the trees and the scraping of a distant plow. An inconsistent wind blusters down the way, the dull, deep rustle warning of its approach. I ready myself for the chill of flurries and snow pellets on my neck, head, cheeks, the cuffs of my wrists.
Those who find complaints in winter are not unknown to me, though, and I recognize the challenges this season offers up - the perpetual need for heat, the short days, the difficulty of moving across the landscape, the scarcity of work...but a winter wonderland is our trade-off. This is where we live, and this weather is what defines our region and forms the character of us who call here home. So we relish these months for what they provide. The nostalgic aroma of wood smoke, the warming crackle of a fire; the gratitude that a hot meal summons and the restfulness of early nights; the wonderful cocoon of a few extra morning minutes tucked snug under the covers. There’s, too, the creativity forthcoming from time at home: little projects take form, and energies that go outdoors in other seasons are directed indoors for these months. A length from a young ash tree becomes a pull-up bar and drying rack while socks are darned, books read, and letters written. A new piece of calligraphy art dons the kitchen wall.
There’s also the crispness of early mornings when we get our exercise early, breaking trail, then shoveling our vehicles clear to the town road. While sleep may still be in our eyes, and the cold biting at our gloved fingertips, we must smile at the invigorating start to the day. For after each fresh blanket of snow that touches our cabin like tinsel, there’s also the adventurous challenge of making our way out of it. So with shovels and snowshoes, we greet daybreak as we head to where we need to be.
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