Winter in the Northern Hemisphere
- Allison Hartz
The wintertime backcountry is quiet in the northern hemisphere. It’s a peaceful, reflective kind of quiet.
Snow blankets the landscape, muffling sound. Animals are hibernating, nestled somewhere warm and dry. Others have migrated to warmer climates for the season. Any movement through the snow seems unhurried yet purposeful. Tracks from this tree to that. Prints that merge together on a trail briefly, before diverging on their separate journeys.
Everything is hushed.
Even the sun seems to hunker down, staying close to the horizon. Its light glances off the snow, creating long, deep shadows. The forest becomes almost monochromatic, cast in shades of green, gray, and white – except during sunrise and sunset, when pink, purple, and golden hues seem to linger for hours. Snow and frost sparkle and shine. There's a kind of magic in that gentle light.
We humans become quieter too. More attuned to our senses. Cold air, sharp in our lungs. A huff of breath moving through frozen nostrils as we breathe in our silent surroundings. The tap, tap, tap of snowflakes landing on a jacket hood. They drift lazily downward from the sky, as if they haven’t a care in the world.
Snow-loving dogs seem energized – even crazed – by the fluffy white stuff. They run, hop, roll, and zoom, plowing their noses beneath the snow, leaving us to laugh in wonder. Their joy is inviting.
And yet, this time of year is so often described as busy, stressful, chaotic. Why is that?
Perhaps, for those of us seeking a moment of peace, solitude, grounding, or reflection this season, we need only look to nature. To our dogs. To the examples of quiet purpose and joyful exuberance right in front of us.
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