Dawn is an old woman creaking out of bed this morning. Her rosy fingers are slow to pull back the covers. Her sigh is cold at the window.
I rise into slippers and wool and spilled coffee, the morning still grey as I patter about the house. This year has seemed slow to dawn too, at least in my mind. I am still adjusting to 2022, eyeing it with hope, but not without suspicion. I need a way to look at this old world with new focus.
I’m so accustomed to the dark and dull that the glint of sunlight on the bare tree outside my window surprises me. I still feel the draft around the edges, but it reveals the beginnings of a sunny morning, and I am drawn.
Forget about breakfast, I layer up and bundle into my warmest parka, my biggest boots, and sling the camera around my scarved neck. Out I go.
We had a grand nor’easter on the weekend, hurling snowdrifts at us, followed by a disappointing rain. The snow is not gone, but there is an icy sheen over it now after the temperature flip-flopped again. I pull up my furry hood to break the wind.
I’m going on a beauty hunt, I decide. The last time I did this was early November, when the colours of autumn were still riotous, before the brown, before the mask of snow. I head up the laneway to the pond. This road is only plowed partway in the winter. Sometimes the drifts on this last stretch are too high for my boots. Now the frozen rain has formed a crust over the waves of snow, and I wonder if I will crack through it. But someone has been here before me, I see. Someone in snowshoes. I step into the pressed tracks, and the path holds me up.
At first, all I see is white. All I feel is wind. Then I follow the sun, to see where it dances, and I begin to see the beauty.
The shine on the rippled water. The sparkle of crystals on seedy flower stalks. Shadow patterns on the bank. I dare my hand out of my mitts to focus the camera lens, to find a pleasing angle. I kneel in the snow, bending closer, looking harder, and I am rewarded.
And yet, this was easier in the fall. The wind didn’t bite my fingertips, or slow down the camera’s lens. I simply strolled about and let the colours lead me. Now, I’m hunting, truly. Winter has never made things easy for anyone.
Perhaps that’s why I’ve been struggling to situate myself fully in this new year. The world can feel like a dark, cold place. Restricted. Isolated. Throwing one storm after another into our bracing faces.
I shift off the path to zoom in on a silky seedpod, and my right leg sinks in the snow, up past my knee. Then I drop my mitt and it slides down the sheer curve of the bank. With a little floundering I right myself and retrieve the mitt. Too heavy. That’s what I am for this landscape. Too heavy. What weights do we carry into this year?
And yet. Someone has gone on before. Someone with their feet shod in preparation for the deep. If I stay in their tracks, I can walk this winter world.
It is this footing that gives me eyes to look with hope. Eyes to believe there is still beauty everywhere, that this is a world graced with love, laced with glory.
Some days I must hunt for it. Bundle against despair and put my boots on. Maybe I’m just a crazy woman in wool trying to ignore the newsreels of the “real world.” Or maybe there is just more to see. Maybe the glory hasn’t departed.
I follow the snowshoe trail to the footbridge over the river. I can barely fit this narrow way in my bulky blue coat, and I feel like a penguin waddling between the railings. Suspended above tumbling water, I see across the pond and farther upstream, to where a handful of ducks are floating and bobbing, unfazed by the cold. The sun is climbing up, up through the tall trees behind me, embracing more of the morning in its glow.
And I know it, here on the bridge – that eyes for glory are what I need this year.
It’s there. It’s there with brightness and beauty great and small. It’s there with a sky that does not stop telling of fresh starts. It’s there with the persistence of those whose purpose is unaltered by storms. It’s there in love and patience and kindness. It’s there in the enjoyment of every good gift, gifts that keep falling and falling from heavenly lights. It’s there when I refocus on what is true and lovely.
It’s here, on this path, imprint by imprint up the hill toward home, holding me up, each step a beholding.
~ Lindsey Gallant
S. D. G.