Keeping Pace

It doesn’t really feel like a new year, does it? However, it does feel like we are on the other side of something, even if it’s just the holiday melee. What’s more exciting than a day on the calendar is studying the sunrise and sunset times. Or the day’s length, which today clocks in at 9 hours and 24 minutes. Do you do this? Sunrise will start to get earlier only on the 8th, but the sun is already setting later every day. It won’t be until the end of the month that the sun will rise closer to 7 than 7:30. At that point, we’ll be gaining over two minutes of day time. As they say, change doesn’t happen overnight.

I love looking outside as the sky slowly gets lighter–sometimes it’s gray and sometimes it’s a luminous indigo. As I opened the front door a crack to look at the half moon up high up above me through the silver maple in the front yard, I pondered it: no one really talks about the half moon, do they? But it’s a beautiful thing, sliced off by a shadow, brightening up our dim mornings.

Monday morning we woke up with some snow–the second snowfall over a few inches. Most of it has melted off already, and now it’s patchy white-gray-brown all over. Not the most inspiring landscape, to be honest. One of my favorite places to walk at has an access road that closes down once it snows, so my visits there drop precipitously once winter arrives. There’s another entry point, but it’s on the other side of the mountain, so it’s a bit of a longer drive to get there. But you know what? I start to miss it. We miss places, and we long for places. I think that’s a very common feeling these days.

So, feeling that longing, I decided to take the extra drive and go visit my friend the mountain. I am so glad I did. It was such a refreshing walk. Even though the snow is patchy and melted at the base of the mountain, up top it’s still covering everything–trunks and tree branches are lined in this fluffy wet snow, and the hemlock and pine needles are mounded up in white. It’s impressive how 700 feet makes such a difference in temperature, and how that temperature affects everything else. It’s a visceral and immediate example of how much change a few degrees can make.

Taking deep lungfuls of cold air, I walked around the frozen pond, stopping every so often to appreciate the trees from the trail. One of the things I love the most about this wetter snow is the way it lines everything if you look from a certain angle. Every tree, every branch. So many lines! It’s mesmerizing and soothing at the same time. I think what is most essential about being outside is the calm pace of it. Although there is constant change and newness–I had to climb over a few toppled trees that recently fell–there isn’t an urgency in the change. It is natural and paced, just like the changing light of the day and phases of the moon.

  1. yes! I’ve just begun to notice the slow, timid lengthening of the daylight hours. I went out early for a walk Monday morning because I so wanted to experience the beauty of the fresh snow before it was trampled and melted and blown off the trees – it was a restorative experience. Love your focus on place – the feeling of places, the spirit of places, the longing for places. I feel it all, too. Happy new year, my friend.

  2. Yes, it’s funny how the in-between of snow/no snow is somehow a bit depressing to me. The brown/green/white in our fields doesn’t do it for me. Give me all snow or all (dead) grass and I’m happy. Ha.

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