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A Walk in the Winter Woods

By J. Delaney-HowePublished 3 years ago 3 min read
Photo by Steve Adams on Unsplash

The bright morning sun lit up the new snow as if it was illuminated deep within each snowflake, all combining their light. The sky was clear and brilliant in blue. The air stings my face, but at the same time, fills my lungs with crisp, pure air, settling into the deepest part of my core. I look to the top of the hills on each side of me, feeling protected and safe within the valley's confines. The gleaming snow seems to light the woods that surround me from within. As I make my way up the snow-covered path, the blue sky breaks above. The bare, dark tree limbs seem to come together against the topaz blue sky, and the stained glass cathedral before me opens up. The snow crunches underneath my feet as I walk deeper into the hidden inner sanctum that seems to call for me. The air still stings my face, but as I walk into a clearing, I pass through a warm, bright spot that makes me look up and acknowledge the sun, appreciating it for the warmth and light it brings.

A dark gash appears to cut through the white that surrounds me. As I hear the rushing water, I realize it's a stream cutting through the ancient hillside, exposing boulders from the beginning of time. It seems the forest was a busy place the night before. The clean, smooth snow that was in front of me when I started my journey is now broken up with tracks in the snow and stained with the colors of the mud underneath. Deer, raccoon, coyotes, and a scattering of little tracks all led to and from the stream.

As I continue walking along the stream, I can't help but notice all of the sounds I didn't hear before. Birds are chirping, carrying a melody as old as creation. Squirrels rummage through the new snow until they get to the layer of leaves covering the fallen acorns. The sound the tall pines make in the wind when their branches collide, like soft music from old worn-out wooden wind chimes. The faint thuds of the pine cones falling and striking the ground seem to keep a beat, like drums in a distant parade, keeping pace as I walk along. The forest this day was alive with color and sound, and I had first row seats in the symphony of creation.

In a moment, the pace of my steps came to a halt as I saw movement and heard a commotion up ahead. The sun broke through the trees and filled the stream bed and forest floor with light, a deer was peeking at me through the trees. As I took two more hesitant steps, the hillside ahead of me came alive with motion. The beast in front of me wasn't alone. Trailing behind the robust and majestic deer I had seen were three smaller deer. I stood and stared into the eyes of this animal, and it stared back. There was a recognition between us. An old relationship, as if we had met before. The ancient in me recognized the ancient in her. We connected in the sense that we were both alive, created by the creator. I nodded my head, and as if she knew I wasn't there to harm or threaten them, she led her family across the stream, bounding with one leap from bank to bank, and the deer behind her did the same. It was most certainly a spiritual moment, not in the religious sense, but in the sense that we were both worshiping and communing with the creator.

As I made my way back down the path that led me to that encounter, I couldn't help but be slightly sullen; I knew that I was leaving a sanctuary as I left the woods. A safe, sanctified place where you can't help but encounter God. From the choir of nature, echoing the sounds of time, to the reverence that the stained glass windows of trees and sky demand, evidence of the creator abounds. Recognizing a timeless connection I have with all of the creator's creations filled me with a sense of longing to reconnect with that more. A walk in the winter woods is all the church I need.

Thank you for reading! If you liked this story, here is another nature theme one you may enjoy.

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About the Creator

J. Delaney-Howe

Bipolar poet. Father. Grandfather. Husband. Gay man. I write poetry, prose, some fiction and a good bit about family. Thank you for stopping by.

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  • Oneg In The Arctic2 months ago

    There's an etherealness to this. "I can't help but notice all of the sounds I didn't hear before" - <3

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