December 5, 2012
The morning air was soft with moisture, housetops and trees shrouded in mist. The humming of a passing train was muffled by dense fog. It is the first day of winter masquerading like a warm morning in April. I half expected to see a lavender crocus poking out of the warm earth, or a yellow jonquil bobbing in the flower garden now filled with brown, brittle, remnants of wild flowers.
It is not easy to send out Hanukkah cards or Christmas notes on a day such as this. So I didn’t. I left the warmth and dryness of my home and set to find the day along the river.
The trailhead I found was somewhat hidden behind trees and overgrown brush, but I’d been there before in years past and found it after a couple false starts.
The path meanders through dead trees and fallen branches; piles of dried leaves crunched under my boots as I pushed my way through the overgrowth. Overhead, squirrels quarreled at my passing, and unseen birds called out their indignation. This is a path not often used and I was obviously not among the kin folks of the forest.
After a half hour or so, I made my way to where the path opens up alongside the river’s edge. The path itself has been eroded and drops away into the narrowed stream of water in the riverbed below. I sat down on a fallen tree limb and pulled out a bottle of water I had stuffed into one of my jacket pockets.
It was then that the morning, in all her subtle splendor, came out to meet me. The light filtered through the cloudy sky and fell about me like gauze. In the quiet of the morning, small visages crept out of the shadows: tiny red berries hanging lazily from a bush, dusty-headed weeds, small birds flitting among the brush, a spider’s web heavy with dew.
As the morning strutted her beauty, I was the sole member of the audience at the opening of a play. I felt privileged to have been chosen for such a moment. Yet I was not alone.
As my eyes became accustomed to the wooden glen where I sat, not ten feet away was a small, brown bundle tucked around itself, sleeping. I was afraid to breathe or even move for fear of waking one who slept so innocently nearby. So I closed my eyes and rested.
I drifted as one warmed by a heavy jacket, long walk and peaceful surroundings. When I opened my eyes, the fawn was gone. As I hiked back out of the woods, I wondered if I’d seen her or only imagined her.
I crossed a field; a hawk circled overhead. I watched the hawk out of sight and turned for one last look at the woods, and like the final act of play, there at the edge of the woods, she stood in the closing moments. She was as alive as the morning and equally soulful.
Originally published at: http://www.bonnersprings.com/news/2012/dec/05/first-day-winter-discoveries/