When I was younger, I remember opening my bedroom window in the winter. Just the teeniest of cracks for fear that my mother would "feel a draft" and discover me letting heat out of the house. The next door neighbour had a yard light that cast a yellowish hue over everything in the night, including the snow. The air was crisp, though; the cold entering my nose and making the hairs inside stick to each other. It smelled of ice and winter and darkness. It also smelled of woodsmoke. That was my favourite part. If I closed my eyes, I could see myself on a farm, the hills rolling into the distance, snow lightening them in the moonlight. Dark trees standing tall together on the horizon while behind me, the warmth from inside a house radiated out. The windows glowed from warm lights inside and the smell of burning wood from the fireplace wafted across the cold night air to meet me. I felt at home, at peace. Full of love and contentment. Opening my eyes, I found myself gazing only at the dark maple tree in our backyard, the covered pool and playhouse. Even then, the beauty and scents of the natural world filled my senses, my cup of happiness running over.
There is something about snow that can take me to that place still. It's the way it covers everything in white perfection. The way it silences everything to soft muffles. It's the cold that accompanies it and brings smells otherwise absent: frozen water, woodsmoke, cold. It's the way it makes me feel alone but in no way lonely. Alone and, at the same time, part of it all.
A couple moms and I went skiing last night. The evergreens just doused in white, like powder sugared trees. The sun setting behind the hills, casting golds, lavenders, pinks into the clouds, the trees and (best of all) Mt. Hood. A full moon rose in the east, changing places with the sun and replacing the intense light of day with the thoughtful light of night. At times, it was hard to choose which way to look and yet, easy, for the beauty surrounded me. Wonder. Joy. Gratitude. Snow.