White are the far-off plains, and white
The fading forests grow;
The wind dies out along the height,
And denser still the snow,
A gathering weight on roof and tree,
Falls down scarce audibly.
Archibald Lampman: “Snow”
I went for a walk this morning along a hiking trail that runs through a local park. Lola’s thirteen now, and the longer walks like this are a bit beyond her, so I left her to snooze on her dog bed and took the camera with me. We had a significant fall of snow about a week and a half ago, followed by some more the other night. The woods are, as Robert Frost wrote, “lovely, dark and deep”, their hidden places full of peaceful silence.
Something I love about this city is how nature is just right there, on the doorstep. There’s no need to drive for hours; a five-minute trip to this particular park and I’m immersed in the natural world. I met quite a few dogs: Jack the malamute, whom I’ve met before and who always wants to play; Holly the golden; a gorgeous German Shepherd; a Westie and a miniature Schnauzer; a Boston Terrier in a shearling jacket.
The trail winds up hill and down, following the course of a little stream. What always strikes me about winter is how quiet it is; I heard nothing except the whitter of a passing chickadee, and the stream. Every Christmas someone decorates the trees along the path with pretty ornaments, stars and tinsel. I loved how this red bulb stood out against the white of the snow and the fir tree’s radiant green:
I’ve no idea who puts the bulbs there, yet they have appeared every holiday season, year after year, as long as I can remember. The birds don’t seem to mind them, being more occupied with finding food and shelter. They aren’t that interested in me, probably thinking that here’s another human passing through their territory, nothing to see here, folks. Besides Christmas bulbs, some people leave seeds and cracked corn on the ground and in the hollow places of spruce and fir trees. I love these offerings. I love that people care enough about these other beings to leave food for them in the midst of winter. I love that nobody steals the Christmas bulbs or the tinsel or the sparkly stars. That people understand when to leave it be.
The world weighs heavy on me lately. I’ve been trying to limit my media consumption to local stories about miscreant police officers, missing fishermen, who won the election in Such and Such a place here on the island, and the brewmaster looking for unwanted fruitcake. I’ve had to turn away from international news, especially coming from the United States, because it causes me no end of personal distress, depression, and despair. I have learned to bolster myself with positivity and offer myself comfort and compassion. Sometimes it really feels like we are standing on the edge of an abyss, and I don’t know if we still have time to step away and save ourselves. I hope we do. I hope we have the common sense to turn away from narcissistic pedants and idealogues and fascists who insist the entire world should march to their particular drum.
In the meantime there’s the quiet of the winter forest and the peace of wild things.