Ranée

Winter

I get a little warm in my heart when I think of winter
— Tori Amos

Winter has come and, with it, darkness—a time for rest, contemplation, soul-searching, and planning for the return of the sun and the light come spring. I am wishing for snow and the peace and quiet stillness that it brings. I love winter when there’s snow and a decided chill in the air (we have only one of those things at the moment and I had to be content with nothing more than a little frost today). Winter is second only to fall for me. I seem to come alive with the dying season. I guess maybe that’s because I’ve always been a lover of solitude and shadows, a strange soul who found solace in the things that made many others cringe with restlessness or fear. Something there is that doesn’t love the quiet, or slowing down.

Well, this winter, I will be slowing down, taking more time for me and my loved ones, and for completing a draft of the book I’ve been working on for way too long now (it’ll be two years come spring). I’ll also be catching up on reading, curling up with a cozy blanket and a mug of tea many a weekend; the only thing our home is missing is a fireplace, really. But I will not be shut up indoors for the duration of winter. Oh, no! I’ll be out experiencing the wondrous beauty of nature as I always do, especially when that first snowfall finally does blanket our world. There’s something so serene about snow and, yes, I confess that I do get a little warm in my heart when I think of winter . . . Besides, I’m interested to see how my archery progresses (or doesn’t) with the change in the weather.

Ranée

Solace

It’s been a while since I’ve taken a walk in the nature preserve near my neighborhood, so today, I did just that. There was no one along the length of the paved path when I arrived and the rays of sunlight shone through the trees like a beacon.

I decided to take the pond trail loop this time, wondering if there’d actually be a pond now. There was no one else on that path either, at least, no human, and as I strolled along, the only sound apart from my footfalls and the crunch of dead leaves beneath my shoes was the occasional gust of chill wind rustling through the trees. Less often, I heard the chirp or call of birds.

I’d been walking for maybe ten minutes when off to my right, a little ways off the trail, I noticed a sign that warned: Danger! You are no longer on the path. Turn back! Part of me was tempted to venture into that forbidden territory, but today didn’t seem like a good day to get lost, so I smiled to myself and kept to the path. Some water had collected in the depression among the leaf-covered ground, after all, I saw, when I neared the pond site, though not much; its depth was surely no more than a few feet at most.

I walked on, past fallen trunks, a tree whose twisted branches looked as though they were clawing at the earth, and a tangle of leaves and vines that had grown into a beautiful natural arch. The leaves of the arch had a bluish tinge to them in the light that I found quite lovely and I thought of Alice stumbling through that archway into her magical world.

A bit father along, some logs had formed what were almost small steps and as I neared them, I heard a rabbit whom I’d apparently frightened scurry away through the brush. When I left the trail, the sight of the leaves fluttering slowly down to the ground so captivated me that I stopped to film them.

As I emerged from the tree-lined path, I saw that the sky was a brilliant, clear blue with only a few wisps of cloud. A lone woolly worm crawled across the asphalt in front of me and a bronze-colored object caught my eye. I’m not sure what the sparkly copper-colored object was, but I decided to leave it where I’d found it; it wasn’t mine to keep.

On my way back to my car, I passed other nature-lovers now who smiled or nodded, some exchanging a greeting or wave with me. Kindred souls, I knew, who also took solace in the wild beauty of this magical place. I spied another, smaller arch, this one a single vine, before I heard the shouts of children come to ride their bikes teasing their mother who balanced on the curb. I could feel the spell breaking.

As I neared the parking lot, I glanced down to see that some leaves had left star-shaped imprints on the sidewalk—shooting stars, I thought, smiling. I walked to my car and noticed the crude words my son had written in the condensation on the dirty windows a day earlier showing clearly and sighed. I should probably wash my car.