There is always that feeling of mild sorrow when leaving a place where you stayed even for a bit. A part of you stays behind no matter what. When we left in the morning, the cabin that was our home for one night was inundated by bright sunlight. It looked pretty and inviting. Places where you share laughs and snuggles always do.
We crossed a frozen lake, following our own tracks from yesterday. Deep enough wells lined with hoarfrost that looked like tiny evergreens. As if a white forest grew in each of them. The four of us and pup too, we left tracks that danced together and trampled in each other’s steps all the way to the cabin. Now we were trekking back. So much sun to walk with us. That only the pup pranced is because we were rather weighted down by winter gear. But our hearts did, alongside her.
We traversed the first lake and followed a path through the woods. Tall swaying trees decorated with big clumps of snow, lichens and sunshine guarded the trail and the magic of walking among them was unsurpassable. There were holes in the snow that were filled with blue light and you wanted to be small enough to slide right in and marvel at the world of light filtered through ice crystals piled on top of each other.
Magic, yes. Boys chattering behind the supply sled that Max pulled, and pup and I walking ahead and announcing dead-fall crossings. Ever heard the music of trees swaying in a gentle breeze? It’s yet another kind of mystery that the forest envelops you with.
There are tracks of bunnies and squirrels and mice too, the tiniest of all, and my camera is asleep due to cold temperatures so we only stare at them and imagine the stories that go with each, grateful for yesterday’s glimpses that got photographed. This is what I always wish for. Time to be. Present so we can see each other…
We are in the heart of the snowy woods, no notifications on any devices, just furtive glances that speak of winter-kissed red cheeks, simple joy, togetherness and being able to steal some time together, away from a fast-moving world that often makes us feel we have long misplaced the brakes of it. Hence the speed and craziness. Hence the need to trek away from it at times.
We reach the half point; there’s some sighs, tiredness, and laughter at the pup’s antics. She buries her face in the snow, swims, and crawls through the white thick waves of brightness, checks in with us and dives in yet another pile that might or might not contain a mouse somewhere at the bottom. Worth a shot.
We reach the second lake and follow thick translucent snowmobile tracks. They had churned the slushy overflow on the lake and now it’s all frozen, thick tracks and small bumps of ice as if the whole lake was churning and a big freeze came and put an end to all that movement. It’s quiet and sunny and the pup follows the scent of coyotes. This way and that, she smells the snow, the air, she sniffs at sunshine that carries smells though to us it’s but a storm of bright air that moves cold and swift over our faces. So much sunshine.
Reeds are frozen from the waist up and we wind our way through, around an island that sits just as frozen. The wind stops pinching our cheeks. Boys and pup tussle in the snow, small hands turn red and itchy and the trek has to end soon or else. It’s been a long morning of many steps through snowy woods where traps of dead-fall lay shamelessly thick and cumbersome at times.
We woke up early because early morning often turns drafty and cold in old cabins, when the fire decides to snooze some too.
The boys were snuggled up in the loft for half the night. Then the air got too hot. Nighttime crawling with sleeping bags is but part of it all. They snuggled with us and pup, close to the stove; there were whispers and shushing and pup barking at times because the woods are never silent at night and she knows that better than us.
We had played games before bedtime and candlelight was sweetly enveloping us with soft light but it was hard to see the pieces and writing on cards. So we turned to stories; some were spooky, some had tiny pups and adventures in them, some had rhymes and laughter and continued all the way until we all stepped outside, pup too, and stared at a sky that had stars exploded all over it. Every time we find ourselves under the night sky where numbers lose their meaning, we’re in awe and silent, aware of the privilege of seeing it all and together. The moon was a bright crescent, a scythe that harvests heaps of magic for us to hold in thick, heart-filling bouquets. Forever may exist after all.
We put out the candles when words turned lazy and slow. The fire was still on in the stove and we curled up with sweaters and jackets for pillows, and the pup allowed to nestle next to us. Loaded with hugs and giggled, the boys crawled up into the loft, and their whispers became soft breathing and neither of us could tell who said what last because somehow all became quiet until the pup stirred and growled softly, which was in the middle of the night when all is but shadows and whispers of dreams. We were safe, we always are. Togetherness has something to do with it.