A Winter Walk in the Woods

The morning’s pale lemony light colors the winter’s woods against an aqua sky. Short, snow-covered evergreens stand like so many snowmen under the bare arch of larger forest trees.

Stillness and silence prevail.

Bundled up in long underwear and down outerwear, I hike an isolated forest road at minus 8 degrees. There are no people, no cars, no noise.  Even the wind has abandoned the woods, giving the voices of the singing pines a measure’s rest.

Rolling through the forest like a flowing white ribbon, the snow-packed road beneath my boots is laced with swirls of sand that the snowplow has sprinkled in the pre-dawn hours like a forest fairy on a mission.

My breath has frosted up the edge of my face scarf, so I stop to adjust it on a birch- and pine-studded hill and breathe in the peace that has been presented me.

I am utterly alone.  At least I think I am, until my eyes catch the flicker of a winged shadow high against the white bark of a birch tree. I stand motionless, and slowly the shadow circles the tree and shows itself as a hairy woodpecker, its black and white feathers and red-capped head a breath of beauty in this frozen arena.

Full of vim and vigor, his rat-ta-tap-tap against the tree sounds surprisingly like a message in Morse code.  What could he be saying, I wonder?   Growing chilled, I listen a little longer then head on down the road.

“Start small!” his drumming seems to call out to my retreating back.

“Dream big!” echoes the forest.

And for a moment, the world feels a little bit warmer as the woodpecker’s song sings me home.

I’m Marnie Mamminga, and that’s my perspective.

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