Down on the ground all was still but look up and the world was in motion. The treetops creaked and groaned as they swayed with the wind. Every once in a while there would be a sharp crack or a dull pop. I’ve heard these sounds before, although I couldn’t tell you what caused the trees to make them.
I needed a walk after our trip to Albany. We spent more time driving than in Bishop Maginn this time and my body was stiff, my mind soft.
The snow in the woods wasn’t deep enough for snowshoes but was deep enough to slow my steps. It was good to be slowed down. Often my quick pace hinders my seeing. The cold kept me focused.
I found my way through the woods by gazing just a few feet ahead of me searching for the openings between the trees.
Or I followed a deer trail, the snow rippled with smudged hoofprints. In spots, a smudge of intense yellow urine melting a small hole in the snow or a pile of oval pellets.
Other times I followed the dogs who were so far ahead of me I could only glimpse their movement through the trees.
When I stopped for a while my back against a dying pine with woodpecker holes from top to bottom, like windows in an apartment building, Fate came to find me. She leaned against my legs, waiting patiently for me to move on.
A few of the sheep had followed us into the back pasture when we started out and now that we were close to the farm again I could hear them baaing. It was past feeding time and they could hear us in the woods.
I spent another half hour or so giving the sheep and donkeys hay and grain, filling water buckets, and cleaning out the chicken coop. But, cold as it was, I still wasn’t ready to go inside.
So I brushed the snow off the rocker under the apple tree and sat looking at my neighbors, the mountains. The wind was icy on my bare face and Ed’s windchime made of an old castiron frying pan and parts from a milking machine clanked like the groaning trees in the woods.
Despite my snow-soaked socks and pants, I could have sat there longer. But Fate was scoffing down the birdseed that had fallen under the feeder, Zinnia was hunting for chicken poop under the coop and I still hadn’t fed the cats or brought in the firewood.
Jon texted me as I was coming into the house. “You’ve been gone so long,” he said, as I opened the door “I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”
“I’m good,” I said. As if I needed the cold to remind me.