The cold bites at my bare face as I step over the fallen rock wall into the woods.
Ice pushes up from the frozen mud in groups of long thin crystals. It pops up like a mushroom, pushing through the stiff leaves. The ice lifts up the shell of a hickory nut and cradles it on the tall shards as if it’s an offering.
Ahead of me, Fate and Zinnia inspect a rotting tree trunk.
They’re spending so much time sniffing all around and up and down it, I become curious. But when I get to the tree stump, there’s nothing for me to see. If I had their noses, I’d understand, but since I don’t and we because we speak a different language, the story is lost to me.
I walk away disappointed but determined to find my own tree stump.
Soon I squat to take a picture of the ice growing like stiff lace along the edge of the small stream. I look up when I hear the frosty pellets of snow hitting the leaves around me. It’s so loud, but even when I hold out my hand to watch them land on my black glove, the snow is too small to see.
I lift my bare face to the tree tops, but I can’t feel it either.
I move on and spot a flat rock about the size of a small pizza box, jutting diagonally out of the earth so it forms a shallow cave. It’s dry under the rock and littered with empty hazelnut shells, a small circle chewed from each one.
I imagine a chipmunk safe under the ledge of the rock, eating its cache of nuts. So I make my way to the pine cave.
It’s too cold to sit for long, but once inside, I plant my butt on the bed of pine boughs and breath in the healing scent that surrounds me. I clear my mind and see an hourglass, complete with falling sand, inside the torso of my body.
I think about how I always feel that I don’t have enough time. That I won’t be able to do everything I need and want to do. And how that feeling, both, causes anxiety and pushes me to get a lot done.
Even though I’m in the woods, I’m close enough to the farm for Fanny and Lulu to hear me. One of them lets out a long bray, calling me back to feed them.
I leave the pine cave, pulling my fingers out of my gloves and curling them into my palms to keep warm. I watch Zinnia run over the Gulley Bridge back to the farm. Stream water flows over half of it, the other half is covered in ice and I follow slowly behind her.
Fate is already in the pasture waiting for us.