December 16, 2005

Snow at dawn

Today was a day for cooking, for chopping up onions and peppers, for mincing garlic, for stirring pots of food and dumping in spices, for filling our house with good smells. Before participating in such domestic chores, though, I first put on my snowshoes for a walk through the woods.

An overnight storm had dumped another eight inches of new snow on the trees and the trails, fluffy snow that clung to the bare branches of beech and maple. The crooked Scotch pines, many of them gnarled and twisted into crooked shapes, held piles of snow high up off the ground. The woods are quiet after a heavy snowfall, the usual creaking and scampering noises muffled, and my footprints were the only tracks I saw.

I've been in a sad mood all week, despite attending three holiday concerts. Or perhaps because of the concerts. Music has a way of pulling sadness from different parts of my body, gathering the blueness into my throat. At the high school concert on Monday night, the concert band played a beautiful rendition of Pachelbel's Canon in D, a song that I think is hauntingly sad, and it took all my effort, sitting in the dark auditorium, not to cry.

The woods have the opposite effect. As I tramped through the snow, trudging past trees transformed and outlined in white, I could feel my body relaxing, the sadness lifting into snow, trees,sky. Against the blue light of early morning, the dark branches of the trees outlined a pattern that I could walk through. Snowflakes clung to my eyelashes and hair until the world grew blurry, and I could retreat into the sound of my own breathing. Near my favorite fallen tree, I sprawled on the ground to stare up at the treetops, many of which were bent over with the heavy snow.

By the time I returned to the warm house, my mood was peaceful, and I felt able to tackle the kitchen, the cooking, and the noisy houseful of children who had gotten an unexpected day off from school.

8 comments:

A said...

Easy to see why you are successful teaching writing!

Yankee T said...

Lovely. I can picture you making your way through the snowy woods. And the houseful of noisy kids, too!

listmaker said...

It sounds so beautiful. You're so lucky to have it all at your back door.

Sfrajett said...

I am so jealous! I grew up in the New England woods, and I miss them so. The city is so flat, and grey, and buzzing, and the moon is a dirty smudge that you have to walk outside around the apartment building to even see. Being in the quiet woods after you've been in the city is so intimate, like slipping naked into bed with someone, like waking up. And the snow is even better. Thanks for bringing it all back to me for a lovely minute.

jo(e) said...

Sfrajett: Wow. That is one of the most lyrical comments I've ever gotten.

mindspin said...

My house is just a little house in a subdivision of little houses, but I found a lot all the way in the back, on a half acre. At the back of a lot is a thin strip of woods. I've left a bit of meadow beyond for the rabbits, an occasional deer, and the groundhog. The woods cut off beyond a decrepit wire farm fence, where a bluff drops 10 feet or more to a train track. Across the train track, the land sweeps down to a creek some twenty feet across. In the summer, poison ivy and thick undergrowth keep me mostly out, but in the winter when snow falls, I pick my way over the fence and walk the top of the bluff behind my neighbors' yard until it bows to become a three-foot jump. I hope down and cross the tracks to visit the stream. We have not so much snow here, not so often, but walking through snowy woods, or woods any time of year, always restores me and reminds me that I belong as much outdoors as in. And in my back yard, I've begun to grow another little world, to bring the woods forward, nearer the garden.

halloweenlover said...

I refused to play Pachelbel's Canon at my wedding for just that reason, Jo(e). I thought I was the only one that found it terribly sad.

You make me wish for woods in my neighborhood. I'll have to walk to the nearby lake and make believe.

see-through faith said...

beautiful Jo(e)

just beautiful