Tag Archive 'natural cycles'

Dec 21 2013

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Winter Solstice

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winter woodsToday is the shortest day. Today winter begins. As someone who loves everything green and growing, not to mention daylight, I find this to be a tough time of year. I am not alone in this.

I believe that the holidays were invented to help us cope with the darkness, and to ease the transition into the cold season. Hope, joy, love, and everything warm and bright indoors – we certainly make the best of things, don’t we? I have lights on my house, a decorated tree in my living room, and holiday cards on full display. Yeah, I too take the Winter Solstice seriously.

The other day I went for a walk in the woods. There was enough snow on the ground to cover up the starkness of the landscape and the snow-laden boughs of conifers were easy on the eye. I was chilled at first but exertion got my blood flowing. After a while I started thinking: “This isn’t so bad.”

Oddly enough, winter is the hardest to take when we are struggling to get from our homes to somewhere else by car or some other mode of fast transportation. On foot, in the woods, it’s not so bad at all.

While sitting at home and listening to weather forecasters, it seems like disaster is imminent. The forest tells another story: temperatures rise, then they fall. Storms come, then the sky breaks open. And the seasons cycle round and round.

Winter is nothing to get all stressed out about. Worst case scenario, stay off the road. There’s plenty to do indoors. And when the walls start closing in, go for a walk. If nothing else, it’ll help you appreciate what your furnace or fireplace provides.


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Feb 10 2011

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Heavy Snow

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Last weekend half a foot of heavy, wet snow fell, compacting the deep powder already on the ground.  I spent the better part of two days shoveling it, then shoveled a few more inches of lighter stuff that followed until the piles around my driveway were six feet high.  All the while I daydreamed about snowshoeing.  I knew the conditions in the woods would be ideal.

Yesterday I drove to Indian Brook Reservoir with snowshoes at hand and an excited dog pacing in the back seat of my car.  We hit the trail around noon.  The temps had climbed into the high teens by then.  I tramped a well-beaten path for the first half mile, then veered away from it following a side trail that hadn’t been traveled in a while.  There I left a nice, tidy set of tracks across the snow.  I stopped frequently to look back and admire my work.

Returning to the main trail, the going was much easier.  Matika ran up and down the trail like a dog possessed, while I ambled along admiring the heavily laden branches all around me.  Several trees had fallen since I had last visited the reservoir, making the trail through the woods more interesting than usual – all twists and turns.  A strong wind brewed up, shaking the boughs overhead.  Snow came showering down.

There is something about laying tracks through snowy woods that soothes the soul.  Given a choice, I would take hiking a muddy trail over ‘shoeing a snow covered one every time, but I’m always glad to be immersed in Vermont’s “winter wonderland” when cabin fever forces me to it.  Snowshoeing is clean, quiet, and incredibly calming.

Nature in winter is subdued, yet it is still nature.  It is good to be reminded of that, especially late in the season when people start complaining about winter as if it’s some kind of scourge.  In February the light returns, illuminating the white world, putting to rest the darkest thoughts.  Then melt water drips from icicles and I sense that spring isn’t that far away.  More importantly, I understand that the seasons cycle around with dramatic flair at these northern latitudes as they have for centuries.  And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Here in Vermont, we’ve already received our average winter allotment of 80 inches.  From now until spring, the rest is extra.  And while the snow shoveler in me dreads the prospect, I look forward to more white woods wanderings.  The heavier and deeper the snow gets the better.  My snowshoes are parked next to the door and there they will stay until it all melts away.

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