I did my own little snowshoe trek after work today, vaguely trying to get in shape for guiding snow shoe tours. Started off on the same trail as before, tromped across the mountain, looking uphill at every ski trail crossing so as not to get hammered. Looking downhill at the lodge, the town, the valley, and the mountains beyond. The whole sky and landscape mirror each other in a uniform dark blue grey. It’s late afternoon, and I think the sun has slipped below the western horizon, but the dim blue grey light seems unchanged in intensity as the day progressed. Heavy low clouds linger around the black mountaintops, loitering like bores teenagers, waiting for darkness to fall. I find and follow an unused bike trail that goes off through the woods, picking my way over unseen rocks and divots in the uneven snow covered ground, my snow shoes making long oval tracks in the fresh granular snow drifting through the woods from the snow guns. It is darker in the trees, through some tangled brambles I see a sparsely covered closed ski trail and head for that. Breaking from the tree cover, a purple grey sky greets me as the last light leaves the open sky settling in the west as a violent purple glow that will soon be swallowed by encroaching darkness. I head downhill and back to the lodge through the purple night.
I waited for darkness to fall, to walk out among the decorated evergreen trees. They stand along the main drive leading to the grand entrance of the hotel. Although the Christmas lights have been on all day, I wanted to see them at night. Shining red, blue, green, yellow bulbs appearing to twinkle in the darkness as wind moves the branches. It is a dark night with drizzling rain weeping from low heavy clouds, no stars or moonlight. I wrap my pashmina scarf tightly around my head, shoulders, and neck and step into the sparkling wonderland under the trees. Looking up while I meander through the wet darkness, lost in the multi-colored swaying lights, swirling Christmas colors, like something from a childhood dream.
I picked my amazing husband up from the train station tonight. He had been down in New York City with his dad for a couple of days. The Amtrak station is about an hour from home, and his train came in at 9pm. Neither of us had been up this late at night for quite a while. It is a clear night, cold and serene. At home, when we stepped out of the car, I glanced up at the stars. WOW! I stopped talking, stopped moving, and just gazed up, mesmerized by the ethereal beauty of the crystalline night sky. That deepest blue black of outer space, and the millions of twinkling silver stars, so close you can reach up and almost touch them. My husband looked up too and took a few chilly moments to stargaze as well. I pointed up arcing my arm across asking if he could see the thicker band of stars. He replied yes. I told him that it’s the Milky Way. We are looking into the heart our galaxy, staring through all the other spiral arms between us and the center. That is why there are more stars in this band across the night sky. We are seeing space and time, eternally spiraling, spinning into the abyss of nothingness, filling it with pure light.
Another night laying in the hammock on the porch. It is easier for me to breath out here than in the closed house. I miss sleeping in the woods in my tent. This is a good compromise. Enjoy the warm nights while they last. Half asleep, warm cocoon, listening to the creek, and night critters quietly scurrying on the forest floor. A gentle breeze wafts through, tickling exposed skin. This warm pleasing zephyr tantalizes my imagination, reminds me of many other warm nights in the woods. There is something ephemeral in a warm night breeze, dreamlike, surreal, the edge of sleeping and waking, where anything is possible.
It is a warm night so I have my camping hammock set up on the porch to enjoy the fresh night air. I am half asleep, curled in my warm sleeping bag, when I notice a bright light emanating from behind the house, seeping silver shadows between the trees. I get up to look around the porch and see a full moon rising, just cresting the hill, brilliant in the clear fall sky. Peacefulness envelopes me while I stand at the railing gazing at the moon through the darkened forest.
Darkness, lantern turned off, listening to water dripping from the sodden trees. It is dry under the tarp, although the air is humid and the blankets feel damp. I hear night noises, quiet rustling and whispering shuffles out in the forest. I am contemplating the darkness of the nighttime world when I see a flash of tiny yellow light. It flashes several times more, I realize there is a lightening bug sitting on the outside of the tent. I see another on the other side. These two fireflies showing off their glowing tails in an effort to attract a mate. I am a silent spectator, watching with fascination, as a third firefly flies in toward the tent. I can not see the actually insects themselves, only the random yet rhythmic flashing of their tails. Its my own little personal fireworks show in the dry space under the tarp.
Darkness, seems total and complete until you actually look at the darkness and notice a slight lessening of the darkness between the tree branches and leaves, where the night sky barely peaks through. I have groggily woken to a quiet dark world outside the tent windows. A breeze stir and whispers through the leaves, then almost imperceptibly, a hooting sound hauntingly echos far away through the forest and is answered in turn by another owl nearer, but still far away enough to seem dreamlike in their singing. I fall back to sleep with the barred owl lullaby.