You would think a walk in the valley at the beginning of January in a city at the 53rdparallel would be snowy and cold. It is a winter walk. I expected to see a frozen creek, snow covered trees and a hard to walk on path. Not so this year.
It has been unseasonably warm in the winter city that I used to call home. A visit in the middle of winter comes with an expectation of cold and snow. Although I am quite happy not to have to bundle up every time I leave the warmth of a building and not to have to trudge through snow banks or drive on slippery roads this just does not seem right. It is supposed to be the winter season, a time of hibernation. It is supposed to at least be chilly.
We arrived to above freezing temperatures usually reserved for the long-awaited spring or for the very occasional warm spell. This was okay as we came from a moderate climate and therefore did not have to acclimatize much at all. There was no shivering as we made our way to the rental car. Again my initial response was that this was not only okay it was great. I changed my mind as we drove into the city and onto to where we were staying. There was no beautiful white snow to cover up the brown resting-for-the-winter grass or to glimmer in the bright wintertime sun. People on the streets were dressed in sweaters and looking like they were enjoying the strangely warm weather. It did not seem right. Where was the white blanket of snow?
The walk in the valley brought with it some of the sought after snow. The path was covered with an icy layer of the white stuff and there was a thin layer of snow on some of the bushes and trees of the forest but really it looked more like the beginning of winter not like the middle of winter type of forest I am used to. I enjoyed my walk and being in the presence of the trees, birds and other beautiful components of the valley trail. The snow brought me into winter mode appreciating the season of rest and stillness for so much of the flora and fauna of the forest. A time for us to also consider the importance of things slowing down, a respite from the regular pace. I love how the snow sits on the bare tree branches almost as if offering itself as a cloak to replace the warmth of the now fallen leaves.
I almost felt like perhaps things were as they should be that it was winter after all. That was until I came across one of the many bridges across the creek. It was there that I was once again reminded that the world does not always unfold as we expect and that sometimes we just need to go with the flow. Along the bank of the creek water flowed where the ice had melted as if it was already spring. Was this okay for the plants and animals, was this okay for me? It is weird but it is what it is.
Irene McDermott © 2012