Treading lightly the path to enlightenment.

Posts tagged ‘snow’

In Days of Winter

Sumac Snow

 

In these, our bitter days of winter,

As bare trees stand, their feet ice cold in the snow,

Above our heads icy North Winds blow,

And from my eaves hang frozen crystal splinters,

 

 

Stalagtite Ice

Let us then retire to our rooms.

Where we’ll sip hot tea and clasp our hands

And know the warmth of love still stands,

While overhead, the Winter Rage looms.

 

Blizzard of ’18

 

No embers of wood, nor burning coal,

As their fire radiates its heat

Upon our faces, upon our feet,

Can, as the heart, so warm the soul.

 

 

Embers

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

One Perfect Day

Noni among the flowers

It seems we get this one perfect day in the spring.

The temperatures rise and we can go out comfortably, perhaps a light wrap is all we need.

The sun breaks through the spring rain clouds, and shines on the greening Earth.

Birds sing. Hyacinths and daffodils and colt’s foot and crocuses bloom gaily.

And then it’s gone.

Next day, all the flies come out, accompanied by the ticks.

Mud tracks everywhere.

Before you know it, someone is complaining about the summer.

One perfect day.

Demanding? Perfectionists? Ultra-sensitive?

Next thing I know, folks will be complaining about the heat and humidity, the mosquitoes, the lawns we can’t keep up with.

The memory of that one perfect day fades quickly, and is lost in all the terrible days of summer.

After suffering a lot of sunshine and birdsong and camping and fishing and relaxing, you’d think folks would be glad the awful summer is over.

September first, or Labor Day, someone will turn to me and say “Next thing you know, it’ll be snowing.”

And I’ll be glad this nasty summer business is behind us so we can get back to freezing and shoveling.

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

In Depth of Winter

Frosted Wonder Woods

In these, our bitter days of winter,
As bare trees stand, their feet cold in the snow,
Above our heads icy north winds blow,
And from our eaves hang frozen crystal splinters,

Let us then retire to our rooms,
Where we’ll sip hot tea and clasp our hands,
And know the warmth of love still stands
As overhead the winter rage looms.

No embers of wood, nor burning coal,
As the fire radiates its heat,
Upon our faces, upon our feet,
Can, as the heart, warm the soul.

 

Stay warm,

 

Paz

Farewell 2017

Depth of Winter

Outside there was that predawn kind of clarity, where the momentum of living has not quite captured the day. The air was not filled with conversation or thought bubbles or laughter or sidelong glances. Everyone was sleeping. All of their ideas and hopes and hidden agendas entangled in the Dream World, leaving this world clear and crisp and cold as a bottle of milk in the fridge. 

 -Reif Larson

Remind me why we do this

 

December 30 First

 

Remnants

All around lie the remnants of summer and fall.

These dry brown grasses, the tall and the small.

On Thursday Trail

Each conifer stretches, the low and the high,

Each stretches in vain its limbs to the sky.

Winter Sun

The sun swings low in its arc, non-chalant,

Neglecting her Earthbound petits-enfants.

Tug Hill snow

Tug Hill Snow

The Snow comes to slumber, and lumber around

Packing the Earth to hard, frozen ground.

Snow Devils

Smoke from chimneys dances and twirls, 

Having never seen the Summer World.

Fire ring

I’ll shutter the windows, put logs on the fire,

And patiently wait for the year to expire.

Sharon Center Sunset

As into the pink night sky sets the sun,

Another year’s ended, as another’s begun.

 

Best of fortune to all in the new (paper) year.

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

Snowstruck

Snowstruck

Snowstruck

I don’t know why

I was reminded of you by this

Gently falling silent snow.

 

As it softly caresses the Earth

I remember how you

Made me love you

So many wonder-filled

Years ago.

 

Downy Flake

Downy Flake

 

Pazlo

So Long, snow

 

Cotillion

Cotillion

Half the world lives in places that never see snow.  Some people live in places that are never without snow! I have the great fortune to live in New York State, almost dead-center. Here we have exciting, adventurous, beautiful snowy winters. We’re fortunate also to witness a true spring. It lasts a couple of months as bit-by-bit the effects of winter fade. Red Osier Dogwood and Pussy Willows are some of the earliest signs. This year I discovered Pussy Willows on the branches in February! (We had an odd warm spell). The dogwood practically glows red in the fields as it flushes in preparation for a spring bloom.

Last fall we planted more bulbs on the south side. We placed them in the ground directly in front of the kitchen window. Looking ahead, it seemed like a good plan to be able to see these first signs of spring at our earliest opportunity. Last week, a couple of little shoots pushed their way up through the frozen soil, surrounded by snow.

The next thing to watch for is Colt’s Foot, a small, short-lived flower that looks much like a Dandelion. Colt’s Foot is the first flower we’ll see here, and usually it makes its début in late March. Looks like it will be April this year, ’cause I haven’t seen one yet. This is truly an elixir, the signal to start the bursting of spring.

Saturday, Chuy and I took our hike to the top of Nishan’s Hill. Where just a few weeks ago I needed snowshoes to traverse the trail, now there are oval slabs of ice on the grass, frozen echoes of snowshoe-footprints. Now we can step around snow and walk on the grass, hidden beneath its frosty blanket for months.

As we hiked, I was avoiding the snow. What a “new” and refreshing experience to be able to walk on grasses. To move almost silently up the trail. Chuy walked as he pleased, sometimes in the snow, and sometimes not. At the top of the hill, I noticed he was walking mostly in the snow. He loves the snow, and burrowing his nose deep within it, sniffing for rodent life beneath the snowpack. A few bites of snow are as good as a drink of water. Then he turned and looked at me with his “C’mon!” look.  At that moment, I imagined that perhaps he wanted me to be walking in the snow, sniffing and biting too.

Gleefully I stepped into the snow drift, now barely a foot deep at its best, not more than two inches where we walked. I kicked up the snow at Chuy, dusting him with a spray of crystalline water drops. He seems to enjoy that. Just another form of play. If we gently throw snowballs at him, he likes that, too.

That’s when it struck me, that this is the end of the snow. I felt a little twinge. It’s been such a long, cold winter, with record snows. We should be glad to see the snow gone. Still, the snow is our special friend, mine & Chuy’s. Snow walks are intimate affairs, just he & I. Who else would go out for a “walk” at 16 degrees with a fifteen-mile-per-hour wind blowing, snowshoeing through two feet of snow? It is the very essence of solitude.

I paused for a moment to look at an impression in the ice. Today it was not springy, at about 18 degrees (F).  Ice had preceded the snow, and in this spot I found two prints in the solid ice, like fossilized footprints in the sand. Looking like glass, there was my footprint, a boot print prior to snow shoe time. Centered in my boot print was Chuy’s paw print, perfectly rendered in glass crystal. It spoke so much to my heart that I wished I had a camera with me, to capture that image.

Chuy turned 13 in January. His once-black and tan face is half-filled with white. The top of his head, too, is going gray. Each day I spend with him, each walk in summer or winter, feels precious. Numbered.

I danced about in the snow with Chuy. I kicked up snow with my boots, he flung snow with his nose. We sank deep in soft spots and we slipped and slid over icy spots. We gave Winter, the snow, the ice, a great send-off, a bon voyage, a “See You Next Year, Old Friend”. I savored the last moments of this simple wonderment. The millions of pine needles that litter the snow at the edges of the forest. The tiny and not-so-tiny tracks in the snow. Deer, mice, rabbits, fox…maybe a bobcat. Little tunnels dug beneath the snow in the depths of the season of darkness were now revealed, looking like the canals of Mars.

Snow Fossils

Snow Fossils

On the way back, I made it a point, went out of my way if needed, to keep walking in the snow.

Back at the house, enough snow had melted to expose several squeaky green balls on the lawn. Lost to the snowfall half a year ago, now they have returned. Ready for spring.

We’re ready for spring, too. Me, Chuy, the pines and the rabbits.

Winter can be hard work. Perhaps that’s why spring has such an appeal, such excitement around the change of season.

We’re going to miss the snow.

It’s moments like this that make me look to the big picture. Savor those memories of the snow. Shining brutal winter days. Ice storms like crystals. Snow Geese. A footprint.

Cast our eyes to the spring, and try not to think about the return of the snow. Another winter. People will think you’re crazy.

In my wishful dream, we’ll all still be here when it arrives.

View From The Top

View From The Top

Be at peace,

 

Paz

Warm Winter

Kelly Station in Winter

Kelly Station in Winter

Three degrees Fahrenheit. 13 inches of ice on Canada Lake. Wind chill minus 10.

We label and measure each aspect of the season, our only sense of understanding. Or is it an illusion of control?

Wind moves through layers of clothing. As Chuy & I walk past pines, the wind is louder, buffeting the full branches laden with inches of powdery snow.

The frozen crystals splinter down upon us, peppering the face like tiny ice bird-shot, blasted from Winter’s shotgun.

Joe & the boys

Joe & the boys

We scoff at the readings on the thermometer. We boast of colder winters survived. We revel in the tales of hours and whole days spent suspended above lakes and ponds on a foot-thick floor of frozen water. We retell the tales of the biggest catches, the deepest snows, the thickest ice.

We think ourselves brave and bold as we dress in layer after layer, bundle ourselves like fine art prepared for shipping.  Some of the smarter ones will stay inside on a bitter day.

Snow on Pines

Snow on Pines

Up in Alaska, people live above the Arctic Circle. Never thaws. Permafrost they call it. It’s “winter” year round. We marvel at their lives, we wonder about their sanity. We are awe-struck by native people, having lived and fished and died here for thousands of years. Why? When humans crossed the Bering Sea land bridge, why did they stop here? Just another thousand miles and they could be living in seaside Seattle. Two thousand, and they’d be in Baja California. What enraptures us to live with the snow?

The Blizzard Lunch

The Blizzard Lunch

Out in the universe, the cosmos laughs. 3 degrees? You call that cold? Out here where there’s no atmosphere, there’s NO heat. NONE. Not zero or below zero, but what we humans have labeled “absolute zero”. Not a single calorie of heat energy. Relative to our thermometers, that would be about 450 degrees below zero Fahrenheit!

There’s something about being out there in the cold, particularly when I’m alone, that makes me feel that much more a part of the universe. Most of it is cold. Planets near stars are warm. Some of them very hot, of course. Hundreds of degrees. the sun itself, not the hottest star either, has surface temperatures measured in the millions of degrees.

But mostly, the cosmos is a big, empty, heatless space.

Browsing

Browsing

So, our three degrees today, all 3 of them, are way ahead of the universe’s curve.  It’s almost like a heat wave. Great to have a warm winter.

Pumpkin Patch in Winter

Pumpkin Patch in Winter

Next time you’re out there, shoveling a path to your door, skiing down a hill, boring a hole in the ice, if you think it’s cold…

I feel warmer already.

 

Be at peace,

 

Paz

 

 

 

Rural Zen: Winter

 FEB2010snow 020

As the door swings open, Chuy races past to be the first outside. He pauses just a moment as he sees the new fallen snow, ten or twelve inches deep, then leaps headlong into it. A few rolls on his back, paws nearly straight in the air, a gleeful snow bath. Then the nose digs deep, sniffing out some industrious rodent eking out a life below the snow. Then he’ll pick the snow up on the top of his nose and throw it into the air and try to catch it in his mouth. Finally, a look over his shoulder at me, as I clumsily move through the door and down the step wearing snowshoes.

And we’re off! Chuy leaps and makes turns in the air, frankly somewhat remarkable for a twelve-year-old, seventy-five pound Akita mix. “Scrunch, scrunch, scrunch” sound the snowshoes as they make their way across the yard, past the apple tree, past the barn. The sound tells us it’s very cold, certainly below twenty degrees. The snow makes a certain sound when temperatures are far below freezing.

Blizzard of February 11

Fifteen-mile-per-hour winds whip up snow devils and try to drive the cold and flakes into the carefully sealed places around my neck and head. The bright, full sun’s rays can barely be felt on the skin, hardly registering as warmth.

We trek eastward, walking the side of the runways, crossing to the rifle range trail. Birds flit about, diving and perching, singing as if it was spring. How can those tiny things be so oblivious to the cold and wind?

Crystalline snow drifts and piles at the edges of footprints, paw prints, rock walls and shrub lines. Flakes dance like diamonds before me, as shiny as gemstones, reflecting the sun. A glittering field of snow unfolds before us as we reach the top of the trail and turn north.

It’s wearing on me now. After the first quarter-mile my legs remind me that they don’t often wear boats on their feet nor try to trod through foot-deep sand. As muscles call for more oxygen, the top buttons are loosened, the scarf comes off. Even at fifteen degrees, the hike starts heating the core, demanding ventilation. The blast of icy air freezes perspiration on the skin, yet the relief from overheating is welcome.

DSCF3170

The last two hundred feet rises steadily to the top of the hill. Another thirty feet in elevation, another hundred steps in fluffy drifts driven by the wind. The lines, arcs, swirls and swells decorate the hill, cover our path in three-foot deep crests. By now Chuy, typically insistent on leading, is behind me. The first half mile requiring him to leap off the ground to take the next step is wearing on him. Now I am breaking trail for him with the snowshoes, and he’s satisfied with second place for a time.

Ten more steps, five, three. Each one is a bit of labor now. One more. Then one more. Then one more.

And alas, we arrive at the top of the hill. There is no sound but “the sweep of gentle wind and downy flake.”.

Here at the top, I’ll pause and rest. Three hundred degrees of views (60 are pines), all below me, radiate vast expanses of bright white. Here and there are patches of green, tangles of gray-browns, distant visages of human encroachments; barns, a road.

The wind seems to pick up, sweeping two miles from the lee of Victory Mountain to the west. Rolling down the steep grade and plummeting into the hills and hollows of Engleville, and all its 26 residents (and their pets).

It’s not really uncomfortable, though the only exposed skin on the face reminds us it is brutally cold. Five layers of fabric and a workout helps. I can feel the wind pushing on me, making me sway like a sapling. This is visceral and tangible and exciting and real. I could shout at the top of my lungs from here and be heard by none other than Chuy.  I take another moment, another 300-degrees drink of the pristine snow, the stark landscape dotted with naked deciduous trees, frozen grapevines and pines that scoff at winter.

Chuy comes alongside. It can’t be more than five minutes since we reached this place, our summit, our beautiful, silent private place. Our alter. He’s too encumbered by the deep snow for the usual twenty-minute exploratory escapades over to the tree line, back toward the woods, down the slope behind Maggie’s pond.

He looks up at me as if to say “Well, I suppose…”

The wind is whipping up the hill, blasting us in the face as we turn westward and toward home.

As we pass the pines, without thinking, I speak aloud.

“The woods are lovely. Dark and deep.”

DSCF3044

As the evening sky turns February Gold and January Blue, it seems the greens and yellows of our Mays and Junes are but a distant memory, a folktale, a myth.

Yet there is in this moment, in this cold, in this wind-driven snow, a sense of peace and belonging. 

As shadows grow longer, we brace and bear down into the wind.

Well, one of us does. The other is throwing snow in the air with his nose, and catching it.

“Scrunch, scrunch, scrunch…”

 

Paz

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