A beautiful early morning snow floated down from gray skies today. There was hardly a breeze, and the big, fluffy flakes drifted straight down and began to cover the ground. I like to stand in the window on such a morning with my fingers gripping a cup of warm tea, and time to daydream. Today I focused out into the tall grass meadow and saw the beauty of the snow covered landscape. My eye was quickly drawn to some movement near the creek—a coyote! A very handsome, healthy looking coyote at that. By now, I have him framed in my binoculars for a closer look. How naturally beautiful he was, with the snow flakes falling all around him. He was hunting for voles with his nose in the grass, and looked up every few seconds with ears erect and his nostrils testing the damp air. He was slowly following the creek to the south when he disappeared behind some willows and gone from my view.
It's not the first time I have stood for a few minutes with a cup of tea and watched a story unfold down Nature's trail.
The snow lasted only a couple of hours, but there had been enough to track a cat, so I guess I'll count that as the first snowfall of the season.
The daytime temps have been in the 30s the past week, and the old woodstove sure feels good. I've brought enough firewood up to the house to last a couple of months. I try not to think about how much work it is to put firewood up for winter, and how easy it is to put it in the stove. The bottom line is, it keeps me warm.
The moon is rising late, so the valley gets very dark after sunset, especially on a cloudy night. I use a small flashlight when I step off the porch to get an armload of wood. I had as much as I could carry and was heading up the steps, when I heard a flock of Tundra swans. Their soft, musical calls came from the darkness above me, but I could see them clearly in my mind—their long necks leading the way while great, white wings carry them along.
The Wind, my old nemesis, came Wednesday night after dark. It's been quite a while since it blew so hard down the valley—hard enough to rattle the old windows and make lots of other assorted clangs, bangs, scrapes and clatters.
The days for staying in and keeping warm are here, days of inner creativity and reflection. Lots of quiet time, that at first takes some getting used to. My attitude changes slowly, like the seasons. The physical adjustments come easily—they have to be done—but the mental adjustments can be tricky for a while. Up until late November, I was free to spend my days outside, but now the cold shortens my trips. Projects to do inside that are creative and interesting are all a part of getting through a long winter. For sure, there's plenty that can be accomplished before Spring—but for now, I still feel like I should be working outside in my shirtsleeves.
My woodstove will have a fire in it until the end of April. My instinctive need to stay warm becomes my first priority. The wild birds at the feeders have the same thing in mind when they eat the seed. It's their body fat that keeps them warm, and the seed replaces the fat they lose to the cold. If they don't eat, they don't stay warm, and if they don't stay warm, no birds.
If you are going for a walk down Nature's trail on chilly days—stay warm, be comfortable, have fun and be observant. Take in all that's around you, and Nature will warm your heart all winter.
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