Footprints in the Snow

By | January 14, 2021
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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 seen and unseen. Besides the obvious benefits to my health, many thoughts and ideas occur to me during these 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 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 number 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 through 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 would walk the meandering path as it snaked through maples, birches, sycamores, bushes, and colorful wild plants – and cool off in the dark, cool, oxygen-rich air. A simple pleasure. And a welcome, although brief respite, from the heat of a typical summer day.

Now winter is here, and my walks are of quickened pace. 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 to be windier than days and nights of any other season. Indeed, 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 – silenced by the 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 – leaving footprints in the snow, winding through the trees.

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 in winter.

There is no color at all but the color of my memories.

The only sounds I hear are the skeleton trees dancing lifeless and my own hurried footsteps crunching through the ice-frosted 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 forest 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 silence and used the time to reflect on their own blessings and their own life-challenges. Most of us have plenty of both upon which to reflect. Of that I’m certain.

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 wildflowers 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 yourself. 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. 

I hope that this winter you’ll take some time and 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.

4 thoughts on “Footprints in the Snow

  1. Bonnie

    This is beautiful. So reflective. We rarely get snow where I live but I will go make some footprints in the sand!

    Reply
  2. VICKI J GARRETT

    Another great essay TC! I remember those days of just wanting to walk anywhere and get away from the daily grind of everyday life for just a little while! Now-a-days it is an effort to just walk to my mailbox half a short block away. My body is bent with time fast growing short; but now have to rely on memories of days gone by, when I was young, relishing the the sights and sounds around me of taking those walks far beyond the confinement of four walls. Thanks for the memories my friend!

    Reply
  3. Robin Busald

    Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts …Very calm and peaceful to read… It brought back memories of walks through the woods near my home with my dad and little sister as a child. My mom is 91 and she ccalled me about 3:30 am to take her to the hospital with chest pain… because of the Covid I couldn’t stay with here… sat in my car in the parking lot til she called to say to go home till she needs me to pick her up and take her home. I live just around the corner from the hospital so I did. It’s now after 6:30 am and still waiting for her call. It was nice to have your essay to read while I’m waiting.

    Reply

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