End of Winter
For the first time in a few years we are experiencing an actual Winter in the Midwest. It hit around the Winter Solstice and it’s not let up since. Snow, sleet, and ice have been our constant companions. I have always enjoyed this time of year and the feel of cold air. It lets me know I’m alive. This year, for the first time in a long time, I’m ready to be done.
Our house has been pretty cold this year. I’m sure that’s part of it. Even with the wood stove going, the exterior rooms get pretty chilly. It’s not unusual to have a coat on over your sweater or, my favorite, wrapping a favorite blanket around you. I’ve lived in colder housing, that is for sure. Two winters in a yurt will change your perspective of cold weather for the rest of your life. Still, I’m noticing the cold is starting to get to me. Maybe it’s just the constant gray?
Earlier this week and before the current round of bleary weather moved in I listened to the siren call of our woods and took a small hike after work. The woods were quiet, still and damp as I slowly worked my way down the steep ridge and to my goal, the creek. To my right I heard the snapping of branches and saw something that warmed my heart. A whitetail doe moving through, limping on her three good legs.
I first saw her just before the blizzard in December and I was worried for her. She had either been hit by a car or had taken a fall somewhere because a bloody wound, most likely a break, could be seen up near her right front shoulder. In the blizzard she was desperately trying to make her way through the rising snowfall and I watched her finally settle using some brush and stone as a windbreak. I was concerned she would not make it through the next few days but I knew there was little I could do for her. I did take vegetable bits out to the wood line for her once a week or so but, regardless, Nature would take her course. A week after the storm, I saw her again. Then, nothing for many many weeks. I assumed that she had fallen to Winter and I made the decision to go looking for her body when the weather broke in the Spring.
Making my walk down the hill I could plainly see I had been mistaken. She was moving better than before and, alarmed by my presence, she worked herself away, limping and hopping between the bare trees and the grey stones lying on the hillside. I stood still and gave her no further cause to run or panic. Seeing her gave me perspective and made me smile. What a powerful lesson about survival.
It’s been snowing and cloudy here for about four days straight. The wind this week is a damp one which cuts into your exposed skin if you are out too long. I needed a break from work yesterday and took a stroll. I was thinking about how much I was craving the sunshine, some warmth and, if possible, a bit of color. Walking by a maple tree I noticed it’s tips were the very first red-brown buds. I took it as a promise.
A message which whispers, “just a few more weeks.”