I have been spending the last week trying to think of what to write in this newsletter. All the regular seasonal topics, (gratitude, giving, love) that come to mind have not brought new inspiration to me. A little frustrated with the clog in creativity, I head out to the woods for a replenishing walk.
In Shawnigan we have had more snow than most places so the residual of the last couple of weeks still covers most of the ground. I was wondering if my regular trail would be passable? I duck off the road and peer into the first leg of the journey. Very quickly the grayness of the day turn in to an almost dusk-like ambiance. I am taken aback by how dark it is at noon. A little waft of fear permeates my being; I shrug it off, remembering the familiarity of my haven. The stand of fir trees, lower branches broken, seem black against the desolate forest ground. The darkness tricks me into thinking there is little life here until I look up to see the vastness of green in the covering branches. A fog wraps around the presence of each being in the forest. The stillness hangs damply in the air.
I climb a rise and the sky opens to a clearing. As I walk forward the trail begins to go downward and circle around a bend. I watch my steps, rocks carved out by the recent torrential rains, sit vulnerable in their new found positions. Down again and then up, down again then up, the trail sculpts out a path that likens to my life over the last year.
As I descend once again to where a stream pours through in the winter, I wonder if this will be the end of my walk for today? Will I have to turn around, not able to pass the swift and deepened waters of what was once a dry summer’s bed? Ah ha! a means to cross, the log, precariously laid down years ago is still above the water line, slimy with moss and lichen. Carefully, oh so carefully, I try my footing…and then leap to the other side; an obstacle overcome.
The trail ascends from the creek bed and as I walk up the steepest hill I see many young trees fallen over since the last time I came this way. As with toothpicks, they crisscross, crafting an abstract structure preparing for more plants to grow on. Nature has found new use for the weakened growth. Another old tree, fallen many years before, crosses the path. I step on it and the rotten flesh breaks under my foot. New earth forms from old growth, waiting to supply sustenance to the next generation of flora that grows here.
The next grove of trees is deciduous; branches barren, intertwining with their partners to form a network of veins in the sky. At my foot, the leaves, fallen by the October and November winds, are mulching, finding new purpose; death bringing life to the soil.
I scan a new terrain. The undergrowth battered by the wind, rain, then snow and ice. Grasses and ferns, bent over with the weight of the season, seemingly too heavy to survive. A flower, spent of its’ seeds, leaves traces of itself in a brown husk that bows down over the trail. It reaches out lamely to get my attention, its beauty exhausted by the process.
Winter, a time for stillness; growth halts with internal renewal. Re-crafting and dispensing of the old, suspended from the anticipation of the new.
If I had one winter wish for you all, it would be to take a moment…if only one…to step back from life. To breathe…to find the stillness inside for your own internal renewal.