The snow reveals the secret traffic of my yard. The tracks of rabbits, deer, raccoons, birds, cats, dogs and humans make zig zag patterns through ice and drift. Such quiet crossings, blanketed by night right under my nose! The snow tells on the white emptiness of winter–it says: you are not alone here.
The snow came this year suddenly, all at once, without warning. We went out in it, before the sunset last night, and walked through the woods, marching with each footfall through the drifts and the heavy boughs of bushes weighted down by snow, decorated by the hard red berries no bird will eat, left behind like a beautiful, forgotten string from a holiday parcel.
Most amazing is how the snow illuminates the golden hues of sunlight; that interplay between snow and sun is magical.
There is whimsy in the woods, signs of human life beyond ourselves, beyond the crunch of our footfall. We walk through space and leave something of ourselves, intentionally or not. The earth can never forget us, we are ring pressed into her bark, but a moment in this evolving Universe.
We emerge from the woods as the sun falls, cold, ready for the warm mist of stew and heavy bread, and the quiet of a dark, snowy evening.
Walking in the woods, after the first snowfall of the year, may not thrill some. But it thrills me, because happiness is experienced in those seemingly insignificant spaces of nothingness. Peace comes not from winning all the wars, but from refusing to fight. Healing of trauma comes not from big excitement, but from nothing happening. Joy is glimpsed in the quiet posture of a tree accepting the weight and cold of snow upon its flesh.
Trauma is big, spectral, overwhelming. It squeezes itself into the whole frame, leaving no space for anything else. It’s antidote is not something else that is big, but perceived as “good,” something that crowds the whole mental and physical landscape. Space, nothingness, quietude–these are ordinary and abundant. But in that abundant, ordinaryness lies peace.