Winter Walking


Winter Grass

Weary in mind and body – I chanced by a pine wood cathedral and turned in for some solace.

The trees of rough reddish brown reach down and gather the strength of the earth as raw material to build soaring columns. Through the years they build, layer upon layer, until high above they spread their arms in wide capitals and weave themselves into the sky. They shape not only the roof but also the walls, the aisles, the pews, and the light.

From outside it seemed dim and foreboding in here, the deep dark woods, but entering in I found that the light was not gone. It was just a different kind of light that my eyes were not prepared to see. Here the common light from outside is sifted through apertures in the walls, reflected from the clean white frozen carpet, and thus purified, it gently illuminates the air.  It is a light that you need to touch and listen to before you can see with it.

It is quiet here, but not silent. This building is living and breathing with creaks and cracks and sighs and whispers. Sometimes there is music from the choir – the trill of the squirrel, the brazen croak of the crow, the small pipes of the chickadee, the rapid drumbeat of the woodpecker adding adornment to the columns and beams. I sit and I listen.

In the “dead” of winter here is grace and comfort. Here is a nexus, a touching point between creator and creation. I am reminded of a painting on another cathedral’s ceiling many miles and many years away of a man and God reaching out to touch one another.

I grow weary of the affectations, the pride, the prejudice of people. I feel the prick too of my own failures. The forest is free from such things. The plants and animals live only to be what they are. They do not try to sell me anything or influence my actions or deceive me or threaten me with harm.

They take only what heaven provides for them.  They take thought only for the here and now. The human mind with its swirling dreams of the future and its joys and regrets of the past, finds their existance dull and simple. Yet it is refreshing to the soul to be in their company.

I want to linger for hours, but still it is winter and I cannot brave the cold like the birds and the deer. How do they do it? Day and night and the cold seems not to touch them. I need to rise up and warm myself with some more walking. Although my body is leaving, I think my spirit may stay here for a while longer – it can catch up.

As I shuffled along the snow covered trail I thought of the flowers long past that in warmer days stood shoulder to shoulder row upon row along the verges of this path – white, orange, purple, blue, yellow, green. They would raise their faces toward the brilliant sun and wink and sigh in fragrant breezes.

The wild flowers put on their show not for pride but for sheer joy. They gladden the hearts of all that pass this way and if no one is there to see – oh well – it doesn’t bother them a bit. Bees and butterflies at least can be counted on to stop by for a taste of nectar. Sometimes they are so intent on their meal that they pay no attention to me watching them quite closely.

Under grey skies the flowers have taken shelter in root and seed. The alluring colors have turned to brown. Thistles, soft and green and purple in summer, are now all razor leaves and dagger points. Queen Anne’s Lace once wide and bright white have drawn their fingers closed – each dry fist clutches a small ball of snow. Everywhere brown heads stuffed with seeds poke through the snow – Indian Paintbrush and Daisy, Milkweed and Wild Geranium.

They leave their future to the winds of winter and to the birds. They rest until summer returns and the sun calls to them – time for another show.



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5 Responses to “Winter Walking”

  1. lookingforbeauty Says:

    I’m sorry to hear such weariness from you. I hope whatever occasioned it lifts soon.
    In spite of that you have been able to create this beautiful writing and to offer up an exquisite photo.
    Nature is a healer; the cathedral of the forest is a restoring prayer.

  2. forestrat Says:


    I didn’t mean for this post do be such a downer. I had trudged a bunch of miles through the snow that day accounting for the physical weariness. Throw in a little seasonal affective disorder, some angst about the economy and the status of my day job, my typical curmudgeonly attitude toward life and presto I end up like Lisa Simpson in that episode where she “is too sad to play dodgeball”.

    As Bleeding Gums Murphy said when he and Lisa were jamming some blues, “…you play pretty well for someone with no real problems”.


  3. fencer Says:

    Hi forestrat,

    I’ve been delinquent in not coming by….

    Glad to see you’re still posting, in whatever mood! I often grow weary of the human race too, despite how wonderful I happen to be….


  4. forestrat Says:

    Thanks for stopping in, fencer. Seems like I haven’t had time to get around much lately either.


  5. lookingforbeauty Says:

    The days grow longer. I was out for an afternoon walk on Thursday and the light was good until about five thirty. There is something uplifting with the return of light.
    Stopped by to see if you were writing again, but I see I’m just going to have to wait.
    Can’t throw stones though, I’ve not been posting this last few weeks either.

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