The Cold Bright Woods


This horizontal piece of Shagbark hickory bark caught my eye. It’s still attached to the tree by a small piece that is twisted in just the right way to make it look intentional.

What a pleasure it is to be able to walk through the gate in the back pasture and into the woods.  Now that hunting season is over and the snow and cold are keeping the ticks away, getting to the Orphaned Woods is easy again.

Easy if I have my muck boots on because the stream is so high the water is flowing over the Gulley Bridge and freezing.  But that doesn’t bother the dogs or me, we wade through the water and then the icy mud to get to the other side.

The woods have opened up again, the bare trees invite the winter blue skies and bright sun to line the snow with periwinkle shadows. I breathe in the cold air and it calms the fizz and hum under my skin.

I want to keep walking, but I still have work to do.  And the winter brings with it extra chores. Bringing in wood for the fires and tending them, graining the sheep, keeping the bird feeder full, sanding the icy steps.

It takes me longer to get to my studio in the morning and l leave earlier in the evening.  But I still seem to get my work done. This is the last batch of potholders I keep telling myself, but then they sell and I make more.  Make hay while the sunshine, I think as I muck out the barn which also takes longer to clean up.  Soon it really will be too late for people to get them for Christmas, then I’ll stop for a while, for sure.

As I step over the crumbled stone wall, out of the woods, and into the snow-covered marsh, a raven flies over the farm, a shiny silhouette against the clear blue sky. It calls as it flies, and I pay attention.

I’ve come to see Ravens as a symbol of creating our own reality.  Not magic as much as changing the way I think to get to a better place.  Maybe to slow the anxiety that comes to me this time of year.

I think about that as I get closer to the stream and the mud sucks at my boot, then the water washes them clean.

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