Thursday, November 17, 2011

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Today I stood alone in a small meadow blanketed in snow.  I was ankle deep in the white covers laying the earth to rest for the winter.  Standing there made me want to wrap this whitest of blankets around myself and rest in the arms of the earth, leaving my world of schedule and small worries behind.  On a summer day this place teems with birds, bugs, flowers, and sound.  But today, all my ears could hear was the sound of snow and the whisper of the wind.  

The snow fell in small flakes, almost like salt falling from the clouds.  My ears felt unnaturally sharp.  I heard the sound of each fleck pinging my jacket, my ears, and my cheeks.  I heard each individual sliver of snow and counted them with my breaths.  Distant at first, then closer, I heard the wind moving through the pines.  Not just through, but moving with the pines like partners in a dance—perfectly in tune with each other.  Near and far, the wind murmured across the landscape.  Then it wrapped itself around me and, in a low tone, whispered secrets in my ear.  I always listen carefully to the wind.  I stood transfixed by the sound of each flake of snow, the dance of pines, and the murmurs of the wind.  I thought of words of Aldo Leopold and I think I understood a bit of what he meant: 

“It is in midwinter that I sometimes glean from my pines something more important than woodlot politics, and the news of the wind and weather.  This is especially likely to happen on some gloomy evening when the snow has buried all irrelevant detail, and the hush of the elemental sadness lies heavy upon every living thing.  Nevertheless, my pines, each with his burden of snow, are standing ramrod-straight, rank upon rank, and in the dusk beyond I sense the presence of hundreds more.  At such times I feel a curious transfusion of courage.”

Time passed and meant nothing to the trees and me--we all stood tall while carrying our burdens.  A flock of small, dark birds swirled overhead like leaves in a breeze.  Alone in the woods with the day drawing to a close, I turned my skis back down the trail, and left with the winds secrets still ringing in my ears.

Source: Aldo Leopold, Sand County Almanac (1966), 93.