Friday, January 16, 2009


Whose woods these are I think I know...
Robert Frost

So after two days of biting cold, mother nature decided to really show her colors and blow in a surprise morning full of flurries.  When we checked the weather just last night, there was no mention of snow.  A slight warming trend (up into the high teens) was actually on tap.  But about 10:30 or so this morning, I looked up from what I was doing to discover beautiful flurries drifting down from above.  I couldn't help but smile.  It seemed so unfair, all of this dreadful cold and nothing tangible to show for it.  I've always felt that winter just didn't seem like winter without snow (imagine my longings while living in Atlanta!).  What fun is it to be sentenced to primarily indoor activities and have nothing lovely out the window to look upon?  Nevermind the fact that I am often drawn outdoors by the snow, thus freeing me from the eternal interior confinement within which I find myself.
Within thirty minutes, the gentle flurries had become a torrent of white precipitate and the boys became as happy as anything.  I believe at one point August triumphantly proclaimed that today was "the GREATEST day ever!"  Despite the fact that I still enjoy snow, the boys' pure joy and excitement at something as simple as surprise flurries truly revolutionized my morning. Whatever shall we do?
The boys immediately decided that, since the snow was actually sticking (how could it not, it was 17 degrees Farenheit out there!), we should go down into our "woods" and check out what might have changed.  As I've mentioned before, there is a small creek that runs through the bottom of our property.  It is usually pretty dry, as it is really just an avenue for runoff from the steep yards that are positioned behind our property.  But from time to time, it does have water trickling through which is plenty enough for two curious boys.  I'm sure last spring when record rain fall was the norm it was often swollen.  
Sure enough, the water that had been pooling was frozen solid.  And by solid I mean, like an ice rink (as much as nature can provide one).  The boys were giddy with excitement and continued to explore the creek bed.  At the edges of the ice, where the water once met the bank of the creek, the crystal formations were beautiful.  It really was fascinating to see how just a couple days of really cold temperatures can change the landscape.  I decided to leave the boys to their exploring and do some of my own, back up the path.  I began to look around and marvel at what I've come to learn about these woods.  How I've begun to identify trees by their bark alone, since we've only known these trees without their leaves.  My two favorites have to be that of the shag bark hickory and the persimmon.

They are just so unique and interesting.  The hickory reminds me of the talking trees in The Wizard of Oz, only much less frightening and more stately.  And the persimmon is so knobbly and well, un-treelike,  that it never fails to delight me.  I've never had my own woods to get to know.  I feel as if it will happen slowly, over time.  At the top edge of our property, along the line that is strangely cut out to accomodate part of our neighbor's backyard (we don't understand the reasoning for the odd demarcation but...) there is a line of cedars where dozens of cardinals and sparrows roost.  I long for the day when I can steal away, alone, and come sit beneath the still boughs and just watch them silently.  We've been to that place twice before and August immediately sensed the specialness of it.  He called it his "club" and he prepared me a very nice dinner of pinecones and sticks to eat with him while we sat on our haunches.  He knows.

So, we walked in the woods and discovered the most amazing thing--Snow makes a noise as it comes down.  How is it that I've never noticed that before?  We all just stood in the huge quietness that snow creates and noticed that it was actually making a space for its own sound.  A gentle swishing sound like maybe your eyelashes would make as they brushed up against your glasses or the way your ears gently make themselves clear after you've been submerged among bubbles in the bath.  It was so subtle yet so profoundly present.  We felt as if it was a gift to have discovered it.  Then, on the heels of that wonderment, we raced inside because it was so bitterly cold.  What a fun morning.

When snow falls, nature listens.  ~Antoinette van Kleeff

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