I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape. Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth
Two years ago, when we (my boyfriend, Stephen, and I) first walked away from our home it was still winter and the coldest we slept was 18 degreess, with no problem, and that was without a tent and only summer sleeping bags we zipped together. The average winter temperature is not very cold here in this part of Pennsylvania (for instance, nothing like Alaska’s or Maine’s winters).
I am looking forward to the winter, it will be beautiful to witness as the snow falls or to wake up to a mountain top of snow. Outside, one can see all of the changes, even the subtle ones, as the seasons merge with one another. For example, the official date of Autumn is September 22, but when you live outside, you notice that Fall begins well before that, usually around the end of July and beginning of August and lasts, in the tiniest, minutest ways all through August, even before the temperature changes in September. You can smell Fall coming in August. One day in August, we woke up and the sound of the wind in the treetops was different and we both knew right then that Fall was on its way. The sound of the forest changes, the animals behave differently well before the end of September. Everything PREPARES first for the Fall and you can see all of the preparation throughout August and September, something otherwise missed if living inside. You learn to synchronize with your natural surroundings. We would weather the winter as easily as the animals do.
Just the other night, in the tent we listened as a thunderstorm began miles away in the distance and the reverberations of the insects’ calls danced off the still air and anticipating trees. Then we saw lightning, and listened intently as the wind picked up, starting at the tops of the trees first, before descending around their barks and rushing through the forest proper and down near the ground. We listened as the insects hushed, just slightly, as if they, too, were waiting for the storm. And we can hear it coming, we can hear the sheet of rain rushing towards us like the sound of a train. The sound is unmistakable. Last year and earlier this year, when we used to live near a stream, the sound of the stream increased as the storm approached. And when we walked about outside, two years ago, we were often caught in the storms and we were still awed by their beauty. We have seen colors of lightning that have dazzled us, we have seen the satellites shoot across the air, we have seen red lightning (called sprites, I think) that actually occur high above the clouds, we have been so close to lightning strikes as to feel its heat and notice that lightning actually burns a fire orange! Like looking at a string of flame, it was incredible! We saw the rare Strawberry Moon two years ago, we have watched the positions of the constellations change as the seasons and the earth revolve. Nature calls the spirit within humans. . . my boyfriend and I just answered back. We have never regretted it. We often wonder whether we can sleep again while inside. Although, one day, we will probably eventually return to the indoors , for now the Winter’s morrow bothers us not, and we look forward to exploring the seasons merge from one to the other, as humans merge from one phase of life to another, as the universe slowly moves on towards an unknown eventuality. We await. . . and we prepare looking for the mysteries beneath, looking past our physical eyes . . . seeking more to see.
“Winter Snow Path” by blmiers2
“Seasons” by Dawn Ellner
“Cold Nose” by Laszlo Ilyes
- Question Time: Goodbye summer, hello fall (kokomotribune.com)