We have had days of snow here in the mountains, but this morning, the sun came out and began to shrink the mounds of white and set the glaciers on the roof to dripping at the eaves. The Ponderosa pines—so thankful for the big drink they have waited for nearly the whole fall—celebrate with shiny green needles and wine-colored cones drunk with snowmelt. I permit myself a few delicious moments of quiet while watching the trees, and I am struck by the wealth of both beauty and silence that surrounds them. In the quiet, a magpie with a ten-inch-long, iridescent tail flits from branch to branch. My heart opens wider to take all this in, and an indescribable feeling of peace and joy suddenly overcomes me.
There are steps and the deck to shovel or broom, cars to brush free of snow and ice, and the log racks at both the front and the back doors need filling. We have kept a warm fire in the woodstove nonstop since the snow started, but the sun today has beckoned us out of our cocoon. I see small tracks in the snow on one side of the house, probably a rabbit. And big tracks all over the snow-covered back patio—our wolf Tiwa!
One of the things I love most about winter is the length I am often willing to go to for comfort. Unlike other times of the year, I will indulge myself in frequent cups of hot tea, plump pillows, soft blankies, warm jammies, shawls, and yummy things of all sorts—from scented candles to Christmas music. Lots of everything that comforts me. I love the ritual of changing over to winter bedding, when we go out to the barn and open the big sealed trunk to take out the massive feather bed. We shake it and fluff it and air it out, and then we painstakingly stuff it into a tight-fitting, pine-green duvet and spread it over the flannel-sheeted mattress. Over this, a thick flannel sheet, a beautiful Pendleton wool blanket, and on top of it all, a down comforter dressed in its own duvet, which we fold into a plump pile at the foot of the bed and pull up around our shoulders on very cold nights. Piles of pillows festoon the head of the bed and the sofa in the front room, and a soft pillow and snuggly throw cushion every chair.
As much as I love the low winter sun that warms up the days so we can play in the snow, I also love when the sun sinks behind the mountain across the way in the afternoon—the lush, dusky, faded light reminding us to get ready for night. There is a feeling of balance about the way the time and the light begin to equal out as the Winter Solstice approaches. Equal time: plenty for stacking the log rack, shoveling snow and watching the birds, and plenty for cuddling by a warm fire under a blankie and reading a good book. (Or hopefully, in my case, writing one!) Back to my winter work!