Winter Walk

The first step out my parent’s front door greets me with a brisk cold wind in my face. Closing my eyes, I breathe deeply of winter. In through the nose rushes the smell of smoke from a nearby chimney mixed with the chilly air. Ahhh, out through the mouth, I blow stress away. My breath hangs in the air. A winter walk. I start at an invigorating pace so my heart will pump warmth through my body. My feet crunch through gravel on the road as I find my way to the trail. All around is a winter wonderland. Trees stretching there arms as if to say look at our winter coats. The contrast between the dark branches and the feathery white makes the forest appear like a black and white photo. I tip toe around the ice that covers the road, trying not to slide. Walking in the snow on the edge of the road appears to be the safest path. So I crunch through it to the trail just up ahead.
The pond is a solid sheet of ice. Rocks litter the surface from those who want to test its strength. Walking past I can almost imagine people ice-skating in days gone by. Just past the dam, there is a narrow wooden bridge, which crosses the creek escaping the pond. It cascades through the snow, rushing to find its way down the hill. There are places where the ice is encroaching on its space, but the moving water is winning the battle for now. The sound of gurgling, rushing water makes me smile. The air makes my nose and cheeks pink, even though I am warm from the effort of my steps. On around I go, until I come to a tunnel of rhododendron. The path underneath is snow covered and makes me feel as if I have entered Narnia. I duck under the low hanging branches so as to avoid hitting my head. It is like another world here. I look around me and snow is everywhere. As I grab a branch, snow rains down into my hair. I let out a laugh at my own error. I hesitate long enough to shake the snow off my head trying to avoid getting any down my back, and then I move on. A squirrel chatters nearby, as if fussing at me for disturbing his morning walk. He is in a race with a friend trying to find the stash of acorns he saved for a day such as this one. I have interrupted their hunt and so I travel along, out of the maze of tunnels.
Back out into the open I see more ice up ahead. Carefully I move along like a gymnast on a balance beam trying to avoid a fall. The breeze blows, causing a small chill as it sweeps my hair away from my face. It is the feel of winter, as it kisses my cheeks and brushes by my ears. The sound it makes as it blows is haunting, as if nature itself is breathing in my ears. The light seems muted, and I feel the outside temperature dropping even as I sweat inside my coat. My walk has made a complete circle and I am back on the ice-covered road again, listening to the crunch of my steps. As I near the house, I lift my face to the fading sun and pause to soak in this winter day. Refreshed and renewed, I thank God that I am able to experience his abundant beauty on a day such as this one.

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