February is always a time of intense introspection for me. I haven't decided yet whether or not that is a good thing. Or even if it is, I think it is highly possible to have too much of a good thing. Last night, I spent way too much time thinking about all the things I hate about myself and moping about something that happened three years ago. Then this morning, when I looked at my blog, I saw the list of things I am supposed to be doing to fight off the February blues and realized that MAKING A LIST OF THINGS I HATE ABOUT MYSELF was not on the list. Grading papers (which is what I should be doing now) was not on that list either. So I forced myself to put on some clothes, grab the snowshoes out of the garage, and head out to the woods behind my house.
If you have ever hiked on snowshoes on a groomed trail at a nature center, well, it's not at all like making your own trail through the woods. Deep snow is heavy, and every step takes effort. The physical exertion is a wonderful way to stamp through negative feelings. I get into a rhythm after a while - stamp, stamp, breathe - stamp, stamp, breathe - and there's a clumsy grace to it, almost like dancing. (When I'm in an especially bad mood, I chant swear words to myself and it's very cathartic. Stamp, stamp, breathe. Fuck, fuck, damn.)
It's funny actually, that I can think of all kinds of swear words, but that we have only one word for snow. It doesn't seem right because we've got so many types of snow here. For the last couple of weeks, during our sub-zero cold spell, we had that kind of shining, glittering snow that sparkles. In today's warmer air, the snow was thick, soft, with just some glisten along the top. The woods are quiet when the snow is tired like this. I walked across tracks of all kinds of animals - well, mainly deer and rabbit and some kind of little rodents. I like seeing the evidence of other creatures running around here in my woods, their lives criss-crossing mine.
I hiked to the spot that is for me, the center of the woods, a fallen tree where I've come many times to rest and think and escape from myself. Sometimes I climb onto the tree and walk along the trunk, careful to balance. Balance is what I'm seeking in life, and it's a continual struggle. (When I was younger, my motto was "nothing in moderation" and I still have those tendencies to be intense about ... about everything I care about.) Today, though, the tree was piled with snow and I was wearing clumsy snowshoes, so I didn't even challenge myself to balance. I just threw myself down on the tree, wrapping myself around the trunk, and rested there until all the negative thoughts had seeped out of me and onto the ground. The good thing about February snow is that it can absorb a whole lot. And in another month, it will melt.