Everybody knew this big storm was coming. Work was called off for the day and I slept longer than usual and woke to find that she had decided it was her turn to cook breakfast. Fine with me. The snow had just started to fall and I decided to walk outside for a few minutes while the bacon fried and the omelets took shape.
As it is, my house is only a quarter mile from undeveloped land. Those few acres are steep hillside and nothing that any builder could have done anything with and so they lie fallow, these fifty years on, covered with beech and oak and hickory and pine. I walk there whenever I can. That side of the hill is west-facing, so I can maximize my sun time there on these short winter afternoons. If I make it home without traffic problems, I’ll have twenty minutes on that side of the hill, even in the dead of winter, before the sun dips under the mountain to the west. This morning, of course, there is no sun, and by the time I have gotten dressed and made my way there, the ground is covered with snow. This makes the usually-familiar walk all new and dreamlike.
“The bite in the air, the white everywhere. . . ”
As I enter the woods the ground is just covered – little more than a dusting – but a few steps down the path I see sharp-edged deer tracks, these right along a little aisle through the trees we would call a game path. I go farther in and see along a log blocking the path, the precise and neat pawprints of either a small ‘coon or large ‘possum. Then on a bit and the snow here is ruffled and scattered where some bird has landed and then flitted away. It dawns on me as I continue that I have not seen or heard so much as a clue or hint of any of these busy creatures and yet I know, by the measure and age of this snow, that they were here and active in their ways only moments ago. It strikes me then that this is a picture of perception and consciousness. Ours is so limited, so time constrained, so linear. We see so little of what happens in this world. Even of that which is near around us.