Grey clouds graze the mountaintops as they slowly creep into the valley, fingers extended toward the east with dark and ominous reach, the promise of a storm. There is stillness to the air, a smell of snow, marked by gusts of stinging wind that redden the cheeks. Hands tucked into my warm gloves tell me with an ache in my finger joints, that snow and freeze are coming. I wanted to get out early today, before the cold wrapped its icy cloak around my world.
A special kind of foolishness has compelled me in the past to make the drive to my favorite trail when the roads are slick from a freezing snow–New snow, beautiful snow, beckoning like a siren’s song and speaking to the wild of my heart that feels the need to pay homage to the pristine blanket of white.
This morning I am alone on the trail, with a faithful Labrador that runs circles around me and searches with unrelenting fervor for the great treasure of abandon tennis balls. My boots beat against a trail still recovering from the floods in the fall. It is scarred by deep rivulets in places where the water is not supposed to go. Weeks of constant hiking boots and dogs have hardened the ground and worn away some of the more damaged places. I wonder if the large cracks will fill with snow and harden with ice, somehow healing the trail for spring.
I am a hardy woman, giving myself to winter’s descent, in a walking dance to Persephone. Anticipating the ice of winter with its lacy beauty that will web and string its way through the now dried grasses, and adorn the sage with Snow Queen crowns. I try to commit to memory the trees that stand in silhouette, their gnarled hands against infinity and palms toward the heavens, waiting for the snow. All the seasons in this place are my church, allowing for long conversations of the heart, adoring and worshiping the mountains and the stillness of a lake that reflects the rocky giants in its mirror.
Strong legs carry me around the lake and back to the farmer’s ditch, which is mostly empty now, save for the small pools of water that provide a moment’s reprieve for a couple of geese. As I age, I find myself rushing toward these images; drinking in their splendor with an unquenchable thirst, while simultaneously feeling myself receded from the vitality of such moments. I am an older woman now, standing at the edge of my winter, punctuated by morning reverie in this temple of impending snow.