This first winter back in the mid-Atlantic is gray and as my personal light continues to sputter, I’m second-guessing that word of the year.
I’ve gone through my photos and put sunshine where I can — on my phone, on my walls. And I’ve searched out words that will coax me through one more day of gray and coax the inner light to shine a little brighter
I know the light is banked right now because I can’t move the way I want. My walks outside are currently curtailed because of a bit of knee surgery next week. Right now my gait is uneven and I can feel my whole body list to the left to compensate for the right knee pain, so walks are a matter of getting from here to there instead of moving for the sake of moving.
I miss giving over to a familiar route on a regular basis, when muscles loosen as I settle into stride and pace and then finally my thoughts loosen too. Not being able to find my best route in this new place keeps me from feeling settled in.
I prefer winter and fall, when you can feel the bone structure in the landscape—the loneliness of it—the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it—the whole story doesn’t show.
Winter walks have that quiet anticipation. When I read that I remembered two walks last year. On the first, I admired the lacy branches of trees arching over the Neuse River. I loved how stark and still they were against the sullen sky.
On a sunny Saturday in June I decided to find that tree again. The other walkers/runners/cyclists and a trio of young brothers on skates were a little puzzled by the woman looking up and muttering to herself, but I was determined. When I found the tree, I was ridiculously thrilled that I’d won my personal game of Concentration.
How? Well, that winter walked etched the bones of the tree into my memory. All (ha!) I had to do was find the bare, broken branch on the left and follow the trunk to that smaller arch that bore the fanciful lace of branches. And while the June photo shows the full story, I keep going back to January.
I prefer winter walks as it’s much easier to dress comfortably when it’s cold. I prefer solitary paths with interesting, spare stories like the spindly black branches against a gray sky. A good portion of this winter will be done by the time I get the all clear to get back to my pace and stride so I’ll have to find that structure of this new place a little faster, but with just a little more light on my side.