Nine degrees below zero, and only an inch of snow. The frost starts to form within the earth. It begins, becomes a part of the surface, nearly permanent and almost rock hard. Deeper and deeper it will inch its way each morning. The paling sunlight will not be enough to hold back the cold. Five feet under the frost will be before winter begins to fade.
It has only just begun.
The leaves have been stripped. There is nothing left to hide. Nothing left to hold back. And so I too breathe out and a fury of bitter wind whips and whirls up the desolate hillside as the long, cold winter gains hold of the mountain.
Now I exhale.
You see I seek solace in the high country, in the mountains which free my soul. How I need the river to wash away my tears, and the breeze through the trees to help me forget. But still, my burden remains.
You say my life is idyllic. I laugh and remind you I am not the view before me. My life is not endless summer or a holiday romp. I remind you this is not heaven but earth, though I look for it every day, and find bits and pieces in the silver flash and ripple of the brookie hiding beneath a smooth river rock or a grove of Blue Spruce alive with the laughter of the chickadees. It is simple, but enough to carry me through. But not enough to make the rest go away, to fix the problems and pay the bills, to give us comfort when things can get pretty uncomfortable.
I remind you this is not my vacation but my life. I do not come here to get away from it all and unwind. I remain here to make it all work. And try as I may, it does not all work, always work. I need to decide what matters most.
You come here and leave your worries behind. Mine remain with me. Here they are. As plain as the snow dusted trees and the air almost too cold to breath. You wonder how life could be anything but perfect with such a lovely view before me. I remind you of financial burdens. Of endless hours trying to make a business succeed, a family grow, a home safe and warm. Of in-laws too close and good neighbors too far. The losing battle of trying to make things live and grow and prosper.
There are times I too feel a beautiful view should be enough. I wish it was. You laugh, and remind me it not, no more so than a relationship based solely on a pretty face. How deep does that go? How long does that last?
You remind me that happiness – or is it goodness, or peace, or whatever we humans inherently seek and desire – does not come from the land. It comes from within. Easier perhaps in a pretty place, with a pretty face, on a warm and gentle day.
The answers are found only as deep as what we put into the land. It is hard to dig in frozen ground. But we try. Somehow we try to balance the load.
My burden is heavy now, yours will be tomorrow.
Today I will seek consolation in the deepness of the woods. You know I will go there to looking for it, to somehow soften my troubles and fears, to thaw a part of this freezing land. My woods are no different than yours.