Winter

Winter

 

There is a rustling in the earth. The long winter slumber is nearing it's end. I love winter. I will miss it. However, I believe what I miss are the winters of my childhood. Long snowfalls and deep snow piles on every street corner. The quiet and the stillness that snow created in a very loud world.


According to science, snow fall actually buffers sound. The air between ice crystals create air pockets. It's these pockets that literally create "quiet" . (Montreal Science Article). We've all experienced it- that feeling of other-world ness inside a snowfall. Even while snow is on the ground and not compacted, it is buffering sound. According to an article written by Tracy Brower, PhD. snowfall absorbs up to 60% of noise! (FORBES) Within this article, she speaks of the calming effect this has on us.

The greatest spaces I have experienced this in, is the forest. Fresh after a snow, I love to wander into the woods and prairies and feel insulated. A peace always overcomes me. I've never felt cold or miserable on these walks. My heart beats faster not from the exercise, but from the connection and the joy I feel.
My mind is always thinking at these times of the wildlife, flora and fauna. Where are the squirrels? Do they have enough to eat? Is that tree just waiting to come alive? I cannot wait until that dried wildflower comes back in the summer. Where are the bees?

Over a year ago, we installed an outdoor hot tub. I had no idea at the time, what my mind and body would gain from it. Right before dark at dusk, a family of squirrels scurries from tree to tree until they finally enter a large knothole in a 125 year old maple tree in our yard. Each and every time, they take turns peeking out at me. I wave. I speak in whispers. Hello little squirrels I say. I am relieved that they have all made it home. When the dark comes and I am floating in the liquid, I stare at the silhouette of the tall trees in the sparkling sky. I watch lights move across the dark. I breathe in deeply and speak to myself of how I could have missed this. My whole life I have walked through the night, through the winter. But never had I ever sat motionless and become part of it.
As a child, we see snow as magical. An element to bend to our will. We scoop it and shape it. We dismiss our parents cries to zip up our coat or wear our mittens. It belongs to us and we to it. As an adult, if we are not careful, snow and cold become things to avoid. Our adversary. When exactly this happens as we move from childlike to adult cannot be remembered. It just is. I challenge you to fight this!

When we were homeschooling our 15 year old son, we joined a hiking club. It met twice a month rain, shine, snow or ice. My adult self could not imagine that I could get through this. The mother in me pushed forward. As mothers do for their children. The winters that we hiked were some of my highest points in nature. I shed the skin of adulthood and found the child who was fearless. Ice indeed be walked upon! Snow could be trudged through. We could make our own path. This was an overcoming that led me to find my way into the forests and prairies that surround us. No longer did elements or temperatures dictate my life. There was a world to be explored and gained from. My camera came out. My sense of wonder came alive. Most of all, my heart beat faster.

As winter comes to an end with only two real snowfalls, I am crestfallen. I have not had enough of the stillness, the blanket and insulation that it provides. The buffer from the world and it's busyness moving all around us.

Yet still, I am looking at my garden, my plants, the trees. I am wishing them awake. I am plotting and planning new seeds to be sown. I am considering which plants I'd like to forage and gather. My heart is beating a little bit faster now.

If you suddenly feel lighter on your feet, you can visit all of the places in these images. Retzer Nature Center , Scuppernong State Park, Paradise Springs State Park.

 

All images copyright @MichellePatrickPhotographyLLC

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