Footprints in the Snow

By | November 29, 2018
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Footprints in the Snow

And though today I walk away from things familiar too,
I’ll make new footprints in the snow, where once the flowers grew;
Guided by a dream unseen; a dream that will not die,
My footprints winding through the snow; beneath a twilight sky…

Each day I set aside an hour of my day to take a walk. This is my quiet time and it belongs to me. I am rewarded in ways both seen and unseen. Besides the obvious health benefits, many thoughts and ideas occur to me during my daily walks.

My walks have no season. I have walked almost every day in every kind of weather from the blazing heat of summer to the gnawing, bone-cracking, cold of Winter. I have walked in rain and snow, and in winds so high tree limbs were blowing down in front and behind me.

I have several different routes – each requiring a different amount of time. If the weather is extreme, I will take route number one. It takes me just about thirty minutes to complete. If the weather is exceptionally pleasant, I might opt for route #4 – the longest of them all. It takes me a little over an hour.

No matter which route I choose, each one, at some point, passes though a large wooded area. During the summer, these woods are a welcome refuge from the heat and the searing rays of the sun. Many times, on particularly scorching summer days, I walk the meandering path as it snaked through maples, birches, sycamores, bushes, and a myriad colorful wild plants; I cool off in the dark, cool, oxygen-rich air. It’s a simple pleasure. And a welcome, although brief respite, from the heat of a typical summer day.

Now winter has come early in the death throes of fall. My walks are of quickened pace through the cold and damp air. My body carries the burden of extra clothing, jackets and coats that provide a modicum of protection from the slashing, harsh winds of winter. Days and nights in winter seem more windy than days and nights of any other season. Maybe it’s just because the brutal cold cuts through my skin like a knife.

I can remember walking night after night on calm summer nights when not even the slightest breeze stirred the evening air. And the sound of life buzzed all around me. But, even on the mildest days in winter, the damp chill of the sharp wind always finds its way deep into my soul.

But, the only sound now is the wind; the buzz of life is silenced by a cold and unrelenting winter wind.

The raw wind is a ubiquitous reminder that winter’s grip is tight and its reign is longer than that of any other season. I have tried so hard to learn to enjoy the gloomy windy days and the long, lifeless nights of winter. But sometimes, it’s difficult – especially when snow and ice make my daily walks a struggle; a true test of my resolve.

And of course, there’s the wind. Always blowing. Always harsh. Always biting. Always cold.

However, even if I have not yet completely learned to enjoy the gloom and gray of windy winter days and bitter winter nights, at least I have learned to appreciate them. Winter seems more a season of reflection than any other. Winter is the time when flowers and trees sleep; yet we mistake them for dead. Winter gives us the time to ponder. Indeed winter is a season of remembrance. And even more, it is the season of hope.

The woods are covered now in a crusted blanket of snow that conceals the path that I have walked so often in spring, summer and autumn. Without the path, however, I am free to roam anywhere I wish in these woods. The bright green things of summer that once thrived and filled these woods are gone; no tangled mass of plants, weeds or other growing things hinder my steps. The path has disappeared like gossamer recollections of faint and fleeting summer breezes. There is no color – only dark and light. The dead, sleeping trees sway woefully in the winter wind; dancing like bleak shadowy skeletons in the chilling gloom of the woods. There is no color at all but the color of memories.

The only sounds I hear are rattlings of trees… the skeleton trees dancing lifeless. And I my hurried footsteps crunching through the ice-crusted snow.

As far as I can tell, I am the only person who has walked these woods this entire winter. There are no footprints other than my own save for the tiny tracks of some small unseen creature who must still call this place “home” – even in the dead of winter.

This little woods is my refuge and my retreat. My place to think and reflect. I can’t help wondering that maybe the world would be a little bit better if everyone had a place like “my” woods. Or, if everyone just walked in their own peaceful silence and used the time to reflect on their blessings and their own life-challenges. Most of us have plenty of both upon which to reflect. 

My musings are slapped by the cold wind; bitter in my face. My pondering interrupted briefly by its harsh reminder that it is winter and it’s cold. But the interruption lasts only a moment and then I find myself wishing the spring wild flowers were sprouting from the forest floor – that the wind were a bit less harsh – and that winter’s lease had a shorter date. Musing again, I stop and remember everything has its season. The trick is to appreciate each as it comes for each has its right to be as much as I do.

And longing for what we cannot have makes us sad and bitter. We should strive to accept what we do have and be thankful for it -regardless of how little it may be. We should always try to remember that each day is a gift. Each day is a blessing. No matter how little we have or how poor we may think we are; life is a gift. And we should try to live it wisely. Our lives are but a grain of sand on the beach of forever and the footprints we leave behind are too soon washed away by the seasons which live on and on long after we are gone. All of us are given a limited number of days and seasons. Try to make the most of them.

Each walk I have taken has its own personality. Some are more memorable than others. In the silence of the evening I think about long walks taken on soft summer nights. Warm summer nights and long summer walks when I looked up at the stars and wondered at their beauty and the mysteries they must hold. I remember walks on rainy days in springtime and being drenched by the time my walk was done. On those days when nature presented her challenges I would often feel a little sense of victory over the elements – and a little pride in the commitment I made to myself: to take just one hour each day for a walk – time well spent.

Winter is the most solemn yet most hopeful season of all. Winter is a good time to make time for you. Look inside yourself and find the great things hiding there inside. Take a walk,, or do whatever it is you like to do – but set some time aside every day just for you.

This winter I hope you make some footprints in the snow.

Footprints In The Snow

What shy and pale darkness drifts down upon this land?
Between the seasons changing, a quiet, silent hand.
The gift of life pervading the death that does surround
The whiteness of the morning and the silence all around.

I can see the footprints, the ones I’ve left behind;
A long and winding trail of steps that destiny designed.
A trail of tears and laughter, of sun and shadows deep,
Of promises I’ve broken and ones I’ve yet to keep.

I shall not let this sadness nor lost love set my course;
Or base the steps I’ve yet to take on passion or remorse.
My mind still stained with savage pain of things that cannot be;
Of gentle hours and sweet snow showers and nights upon the sea.

And though today I walk away from things familiar too,
I’ll make new footprints in the snow, where once the flowers grew;
Guided by a dream unseen; a dream that will not die,
My footprints winding through the snow; beneath a twilight sky.

3 thoughts on “Footprints in the Snow

  1. Harriet McNeely

    You really need to consider putting the best (all are good) of your essays together and see about getting them published. I know how busy both of you are but these are things that should be shared for all our sakes.

    Reply
  2. Laurali

    Once again, you outdid yourself. Your essays are SO enjoyable. Thank You so very much.

    Reply
  3. Richard S.

    Footprints in the snow
    cloudeight info ave.

    1. A commentor wrote you to collect your best and publish as a unit.

    No, no…become more self-critical and polish your work more before you publish. My opus sits at 30 chapters and is going to sit until I think it is ready for “prime time.”

    I am not sure you have a clear picture of the flavour you want your words to emanate. That needs clarification before you polish your pieces. I would gladly write you a full detailed evaluation if you wanted such. I am published writer, news columnist, magazine writer and freelancer who has taken journalism courses but feel my literary aspirations far exceed my literary skills. I read to learn more and urge you to do the same. But first and foremost, ask yourself what atmosphere do you want to create with your writing? Colorful and dramatic? Nostalgic and warm? Romantic and exciting? You tend to jump around in tone. Clarify the picture and then polish till that is the essence of your piece.

    2. Read more too. At the risk of sounding presumptuous, I understand where you are coming from and maybe where you want to go. You want readers to bask in the glow generated by your piece. If they sit back and enjoy, then your task is done. But consider discarding the highest compliments along with the heaviest criticism to get a clearer picture of what your audience thinks. Better still, if you get responses, you are doing well.

    3. Become serious but pragmatically self-critical…going too far means the work never sees the light of day, not far enough, the work should NOT see the light of day.

    4. You may be old enough but CBS or NBC had a Sunday morning travelogue crossing USA many years ago. A fantastic homey show, more like snapshots into the USA…narrated, written by Sandor Van Oker…(spelling? Vanocker? Vanocur? ) You need to hear his tone and you will understand about capturing a mood, working it and developing it.

    5. Finally, I would suggest you also examine a couple of other writers who write with similar goals to yours, my assumption.

    a) On my website, http://www.szpin.ca, aimed at older adults 55+, under “Our Writers,” look for to “From Nakina” … the writer is (Bob) Rotzy who has had a very successful newspaper column for more than 15 years in Northern Ontario…read him for flavour, for tone, for atmosphere. He is priceless.

    b) another writer who captures a wonderful tongue in cheek criticism of the world around her is the blogger who writes the blog “Life in the Boomer lane.” She is an American who writes with a consistent tone of ‘I am shocked at…’ which are commentaries of life around her. Here is a URL to her latest post:

    https://lifeintheboomerlane.com/2018/11/30/is-this-the-end-of-the-world-or-are-my-allergies-just-acting-up/

    THE LAST WORD

    All this is written not as a criticism of your literary endeavours, but as feedback. No writer worth any value rejects getting feedback, preferably good and positive stuff, but the other too. Hence, I write you with that intent. I appreciate how hard it is to get stuff down on paper, harder still to polish and re-polish it. Only Ernest H…well, a few others, could put it down on paper once and it was immensely better in that initial form than what pedestrian writers like me sweat and polish to capture and produce what we think may be gems. Oh, how I wish.

    Again, keep going…it is a pleasure to see a person working so hard to produce stuff that other writers will recognize as sweat drenched efforts of a person with soul and passion.

    Bravo !

    Reply

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