I can usually appreciate the solitude of winter. The break it gives me from working on outside projects. The way choosing a movie day over running errands doesn’t inflict guilt but seems satisfying and soulful. I love my summers, but summer doesn’t give me a break, doesn’t whisper- just stay inside today! It’s too cold and windy out there! But this winter- oh, this winter…there have been no whispers, no gentle nudging to stay indoors. Oh no! This winter has pretty much held me hostage! With its ridiculous cold days and negative wind chills and constant snowing and blowing and icing and drifting…I am shocked and surprised I have driven anywhere. And yet I can vividly recall some images of winter that I witnessed on these commutes.
A few Sundays ago I drove to an open house in a feather-like blizzard. The kind where the snowflakes are big and soft and they turn the sky a linen grey. I witnessed the vastness of a white cornfield, a few stalks still protruding through the snowcover. In this world of white, obscurred by a steady snowfall, a single stark black crow flew between me and the road ahead and landed on a stubby stalk in the field. The crow, which is known for being gawky and large, seemed to float through the blizzard so gracefully. It was a beautiful image, a quiet moment in a Wisconsin winter morning, when all the other birds were hiding from the storm.
Likewise, I drove home from my office the other night around sun down. We hadn’t really seen the sun all day but the snow that had plagued our afternoon had finally stopped, and by the time I reached my road to turn, the fields had gotten dark, almost as if they were dipped in a navy glaze. And that is when I noticed them- five deer huddled together, staring at me.
Now, it is not uncommon to spot deer at this juncture near our home, they hang out there quite a bit. But their outlines in the dusk, contrasted by a teal blue snow that almost glowed around them, was quite beautiful. It was as if they had found the last spot of light in the field and they were standing in it together waiting to be plunged into the darkness of night.
I slowed my vehicle, silently praying they wouldn’t run out, and they suddenly spooked, sensing perhaps that I had been watching them too long, and they were not invisible if they stood perfectly still. They all kicked up their heels and ran in the opposite direction away from me, into the fading light and the hush of the snow. These images remind me that there is still beauty in the most trying of times. There is still a wonder to winter that no other season can possess. And although I’d love to throw in the towel and tell winter we’re breaking up, it wins me back. It gives me images carved out of long nights and winter white. Two things I thought I’d change, but now realize are just right.