Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Silent Sojourn through Winter

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Silent Sojourn through Winter

Article excerpt

We are having a classic winter here in Vermont. The fluffy snow that arrived in early December is still here, refreshed now and then by flurries. So I treated myself to some new snow-shoes: much shorter, and lighter than my old ones, and red like my bicycle. Almost every day my corgi, Al, and I take off into the meadow and forest just beyond my front door. Al is warmly dressed in his double-thick fur, and I in three layers, plus oversized mittens. I have a compass in my pocket.

I wave an arm to Al to tell him the direction we will go, and we are off - Al leading, happy. If we are breaking a new trail, he bounds up and down, his low-slung body making a half-tunnel-shaped route. When the going is too deep, he follows behind me about three feet back.

What is it like out there?

You are in a wholly different world from that of other seasons. Most of my landmarks have vanished. Certain boulders look like huge birthday cakes with lots of whipped cream on top. Brooks are invisible and can only be recognized by their barely audible burbles under snow-covered ice. It is easy to get lost even with the sun out.

One sunny day, I walk through a white field filled with thousands of flashing diamonds, interspersed with a few tattered remains of goldenrod stalks, a treasure to stow away against hard times. As I go farther into the forest, I hear the silence and soak my senses in its intangible peace. That first fluffy snow of winter absorbs the sound of my footsteps. I walk on feathers.

Trees bow down with snow. I come to my favorite hemlock that lives on a small cliff overlooking a swampy place. Its branches touch the ground; snow has turned the tree into a huge Indian tepee. I go inside and look up.

The forest is resting quietly, patiently after its busy summer (with all those birds flitting around) and the extravagances of the autumn festival. Only an occasional crow or chickadee punctures the silence.

Snow-shoeing is easy, relaxing; all the hazards that may make you stumble are covered with eight or more inches of fluff. If you fall, you land on a clean white pillow. …

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