I wandered the woods, letting the clearest path lead me. Sometimes it’s a deer trail, other times the snow is smooth and unbroken before me.
The trees cradle bundles of heavy, wet snow in the crooks of their branches like babies.
The only sound is the silence of deer gliding through the trees around me.
Lost, I follow the turkey trail to the place under the big pine where the snow isn’t as deep.
They worked hard looking for something to eat. Scratching at the ground, with their feet and beaks, till it’s all rotting leaves, wet pine needles, black mud. And a sprinkling of snow, like confectioners sugar on chocolate cake.
When I find myself on a familiar path, I turn away from it, not wanting to walk the old road.
Lost again, I come to the place where the deer slept last night.
Their warm bodies melted the snow in deep, uneven ovals. Each one, just five or six feet from the next. I wonder if they’ll come back again tonight, their beds made and waiting for them.
When I say I’m lost, it’s not that I can’t find my way back. It’s just that the woods are unfamiliar to me.
I can always retrace my footsteps, unless like Hansel and Gretel’s trail of crumbs, they vanish. Even then, there’s always Fate to bring me home.