Sunday, January 10, 2010
I am a fan of the winter. When we had the huge storm and the world shut down for a little while i took a walk with my family. So peaceful and still and the earth smells so clean. There is an alive-ness in the cold. I never feel more awake than when i am walking in a frozen wonderland that has shut down the trappings of the human-centered-world. Everything was quiet until there was a honk from an angle of geese that made their way south across the sky. A red-tailed hawk performed a beautiful wing over as she disappeared behind the large row of hardwood trees that lined DeWolf's field down the road from my house.
I used to walk from college avenue campus over to Livingston college for classes in the dead of winter when i went to Rutgers University. My path took me across the Raritan River on the Route 18 bridge and through Johnson Park. No human-people were around. The chickadee and the Canadian goose, they were the people there as i walked. That same stillness brought in touch with a primal part of my being. The earth was dying for the winter and all was still. The blanket of snow and the ice on the river were beautiful and clean in a way that was different from the spring on a deep level. It is a beauty of rest. That walk was miles through the cold, the ghost of my breath my only human companion on my journey, and i will never forget those walks.
I think it was 1996 when we had a record blizzard here in New Jersey. Businesses and society were basically closed down for about a week. In the middle of that week i journeyed out and took the five mile walk to my friend's house. The roads were drifted over and the government warned against venturing out, so i had the vast winter wonderland all to myself. The snow drifts on the road and the silence were my kin. I was alone with the earth. Again i felt that aliveness. There is something fresh and new about a blanket of snow and the quiet of a lack of human bustle.
All of those events share a quality that is palpable but hard to put into words. It is something like a forest after a rain, or the morning in the salt air at a beach. It is a rejuvenation, a great cleansing. I spent a winter in Florida once, and i truly missed deep winter. I will take the northlands. Give me a fire place and some wood to chop and snow on the ground and you can keep your pina coladas and mosquitos.