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.