Wednesday, December 18, 2013

One Week Till Christmas

To bed last night after an evening of snow flurries. As usual, I survey the surroundings from my second floor bathroom window before climbing into bed. Are there any unexpected tracks in the snow? I look upon a lightly-lit snow-scape. The moon will be full today and so the clouds are softly lit from above, making the ground give up its nightly secrets.

I look to my south and see Christmas lights. Erisman's have lights on the front of their house and in the yard, all white and green, and a small colorful display behind their house. Coffman's have an unusual blue-violet string of lights, perhaps on a bush, that attracts my attention. These are the total of the visible Christmas displays from my window. Our yard, by contrast, is dark, save but the moon.

This morning breaks clear - absolutely crystal clear - and I decide that a walk is in order. Sam plowed his lane yesterday and now I have a path. The tractor left the lane blessedly rough and so I have wonderful traction as I plod west. The full moon hangs just above the treetops in the distance, setting before me just as the sun rises behind me.

It is 18° and the snow crunches beneath my steps with an other-worldly crunch. And yet I am pleasantly warm. I've layered a jacket with a hood and a winter coat and I've pulled on a knitted cap and pulled the hood up over it, cinching the cord beneath my chin. After half a mile I can feel the bitter cold conducting upwards through my shoes and into my feet, spreading into my legs. And yet it is a pleasant sensation, a connection to this real world moving beneath my feet.

 This is the scene I see as I approach Sam's house, a third of a mile behind ours. I am thankful that my track has returned, that I can get some exercise again. It has been two weeks, at least, since I have been out here. How I miss the movement; how I miss the scenery.

 I am lit from behind and my left as I plod back the lane. The sun is still low and the snow rises into high relief. The surface shines in places, as though wet, and I might as well imagine a storm-tossed ocean about me. These are waves of snow, not drifts, and I might make one misstep, be sucked wholly into this scenery and never be heard from again.

 Looking down at the snow beside the lane, tufts of summer grasses poke above the surface. There is every season in every other, the one pushed down but never quite hidden. Each lurk forever awaiting their turn.

 The snow looks like a downy mattress. It undulates with the ground beneath, further sculpted by the wind. The air is cold and yet I am snug within my coats. There is not a wisp of wind. It is the calmest of fall mornings. Winter still beckons three days away.

 When I complete a length and turn to walk back out the lane, Pinehaven lies cold and serene in the distance. How efficient are our furnaces. A touch of a digital control and we are instantly comfortable ... if we can just afford to be. The heat pump runs continually in the background, the man-made hum of our modern winter.

 Finally I am back to where I started, 0.6 miles having crunched beneath my feet. The cold soaks quietly in. I can feel my feet stiffen. And yet with this calm golden sun, how can I be cold? As every morning, I am infinitely lucky to be here, winter and summer, as the seasons glide slowly by.

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