This is what I’ve been waiting for – a thick blanket of snow to cover these trails and woods and for me to be the first one out on it. I’ve gotten my wish, taken the day off, and amongst other things, I’m reflecting on how weak this modern life has made us. Maybe that’s a gross assertion, but I’m in not terrible shape, and making my way through a foot of fresh snow is wearing me out.
Tougher than I thought it’d be, but I fall into a rhythm – here. now. here. – with my breath, my steps, and later my mind. I stop every few minutes, my heart bouncing in my chest, sweating beneath the layers of cotton, wool, and polyester. I stop and look around, try to take it in. Earlier, crossing a small field and parking lot obscured by an unbroken covering of snow, the landscape completely altered, I got my first real impression of how snow blindness could occur and a glimpse of what that would be like. Even with overcast skies, the amount of reflected light and featureless white is disorienting.
I try to be realistic about these things, and it’s not like I’m on some arctic expedition, blazing a trail like some wannabe pioneer or woodsman, but today is one of those days when the realization sets in clearly that nature, though beautiful, will kill you. No apologies, no regrets – you either make the cut, or you die. Of course, I’m not fighting for my survival out here by any stretch of the imagination; more than anything, I’m just aware that every step is taking me farther from my car, which is one step needed to return. And that every step is wearing me out.
Today’s lesson is that of naiveté. Principally, how naive for me to think that I could take only a year, one year to reacquaint myself with the natural spaces in my community, and that afterwards, I’d have something substantial to report. As I make my way along the trail, I reflect in time with my breath upon all that I’ve seen and learned over the past 9 months. The list is substantial. The only thing I can report, with confidence, is my ignorance. That my lack of knowledge with require a lifetime to overcome.
When I finally arrive at my destination, I sit..and the cold seeps in.