As I Walk in Winter

Sugar –coated, powdered sugar haze and the soft salmon colored light gives way to a mandarin orange horizon. The stillness is pervasive.  Not a breath of wind is felt.  The perfect winter scene spreads out before me as I move closer to the edge of the lake.  A cluster of dark shapes like large frosted plums drift between the ice flows.  Unmoving they are geese still resting after a long frigid night.  Careful not to disturb their rest I walk along yet further.

The trees, which only a day before seemed so stark and empty, now appear to be encased in candy.  From the largest trunk to the tiniest sprig all take on the illusion of feather softness.  It is a scene out of a make-believe landscape so perfect and still.  It feels as if walking into this land will carry me away to a new reality.

In the hush my footfalls crunch loudly virtually echoing through the air.  This is a day for heavy boots with their warmth and sturdiness.  The other reality here is that slipping and falling make ambulation treacherous.  Staying to the side of the path avoids the icy patches which can take me by surprise.  The ice causing such a soft appearance on the trees means an iron-hard crust underfoot.  The shape of the path is just discernable ahead as I have arrived before the bladed truck and plow have made their rounds. In the deeper snow the going is slower as my feet drag through the soft layers but greater effort put into the walk reaps greater reward.

I take note of a tiny fall of ice and snow flakes.  A small gray bird flits from tree to tree, sure-footed on its slippery perch.  The chickadee is awake and must search more diligently to find food this day.  Just ahead the distinctive tread of a rabbit can be seen.  No fox is trailing this furry creature as its footprints are alone in the new fallen whiteness.  There he is! He is silhouetted against a clump of weeds also seeking nourishment.

Continuing down the lane I note that the bird feeders are alive with visitors.  The chickadee has found his breakfast and other feathered friends are winging their way to join him.  Over my shoulder can now also be heard the honking geese as a newly arrived squadron wings set circle for their final approach.  On the water heads pop out of wings to take in sight of the new immigrants.  They call out their greeting and drift aside to make room as a dozen majestic geese gracefully touch down in the patch of open water.

The silence is further disturbed as house doors open, cars rev to life, people begin the labor of scraping their automobile windscreens.  A bus roars past the solitude is broken.  Yet I move on knowing that sweeter views are still ahead.  This time the crossing is even more welcome.  Beyond the concrete path today lays the country lane.  There the plows stop and the drifts are left alone.  After a new fall like today it will be idyllic.

The sun, now a yellow orb, appears to be just beyond the next copse of trees.  Its rays yield no warmth as yet but they pierce even the early morning brume.  Pulling down my scarf my own breath adds to the fog.  If care is not taken it will cling to my spectacles and blur my vision.  Then all I can do is wait for it to evaporate in the crisp desiccated winter air.  The breath cloud drifts away, dissipates and is gone.

On the snow ahead are the tell tale tracks of a cross country skier.  Someone has been here ahead of me.  Of them, though, there is no other sign.  They have moved along quickly and left me in their wake.  The parallel lines create an interesting perspective as they disappear in the distance never quite meeting.  Even as my eyes are drawn to the horizon I behold a wonderful sight.  Not far ahead a majestic creature appears as if from nowhere.  The bare-headed doe quietly and calmly steps out onto the path intending to cross.  She is alone and seems unhurried.  She bends her head down to nibble a bit of grass peeking out from the new fallen snow.

I am perfectly still and watch her enjoying her morning morsel.  Yet, as quiet as I am she startles and her head quickly turns my way.  Her large liquid brown eyes take me in and she trembles slightly.  Her muscles tense as, no doubt, other encounters with my kind have not been pleasant.  Though there is no threat she chooses to disappear through the haze and branches along the path.  Her dignity still intact there is purpose but no urgency to her step.

The light has finally changed into the brightness of daylight brilliance.  It is almost blue as sunlight blindingly reflects from the open snow-covered fields.  More birds are out and about now as they try to make the most of the short winter day.  Yet the path is still oddly quiet.  The tell-tale tracks of a fox and later a raccoon join the path then diverge away.  There is still no sign of the lone skier.  The time has come now too for me to turn back.

A light breeze causes miniature blizzards of snow that swirl like white tornadoes.  A new sound arrives at my ears.  The breeze is playing a tune in the branches of the ice covered trees.  What began as a whisper grows into a symphony of bright crackling noises.  The cacophony of sound is accompanied by new visual effects.  At first bits of snow drift to the ground.  As the wind increases deafening noise is manifested by chunks of ice breaking loose from their lofty station.  Now I must pass through this gauntlet of ice and snow and here and there small branches fall to earth.

No major limbs threaten my passage.  It has become a game as I dodge and skip to avoid the larger nuggets dashing to the ground.  Though there is not a cloud in the sky I appear to have come through major storm as I emerge otherwise unscathed.  My return reveals that the once virgin snow has been swept away, the gray concrete drying in the bright morning light.  Thus civilization once again bids me return.

The day passes as many do.  No time to think or ponder.  The pace does not slacken until a sudden pause occurs.  I am given a gift of a few moments to sit and wait.  At my desk I turn and see the setting sun gliding inexorably toward the west.  Its fiery rays pierce the glassy coating of the high tree branches.  From this lofty perspective there appears to be a forest aflame wherever the sunlight is magnified by the natural prisms.  The wispy clouds ignite and swirl as smoke rising from the conflagration.  Then a buzzing sound breaks my reverie.  There is more work to be done.

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About smcpherson58

Aside from loving chocolate and coffee (not necessarily in that order) Scott McPherson has learned that he loves to write. He writes fiction and, so far, has published two novels. Scott has many varied interests, though he tries to focus on one at a time. He has worked for nearly thirty-five years as a family physician, a pass-time that gives him great pleasure and pays the bills. He has five daughters and dotes upon three grandchildren. Recently married, he really loves life. Scott writes from his life experiences and from travel. His career in the active Air Force was brief, but he has been a member of the Nebraska Air National Guard since just before 9/11 in 2001. The aftermath of that great disaster changed the face of the Guard and led to missions in far-away lands. He has spent time in Turkey, Iraq, Spain, Crete and Guam in missions related to support for Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. He has been to Iceland and Antarctica as well. Scott has no personal experience with violent death or murder, but has gained knowledge from experts. In his first novel, “A Step Ahead of Death,” his character, Jack Sharp MD, becomes embroiled in a murder mystery. First as suspect, then as amateur sleuth, Jack tries to make a difference. He finds himself right in the middle of an investigation well beyond the scope of a local murder. A man of faith, Scott traveled to Africa with his small family in the 1980s and served as a medical missionary in Zaire (known as Congo today) with a church organization. The vast difference in what it takes to exist in such an environment served as a basis for much of his second novel, a thriller, “Congo Mission.” His character, Jack, is twenty years younger than in the first novel. In “Congo Mission” Jack serves as a physician in a missionary hospital in the jungles of northwestern Zaire. There he is not only captivated by a young woman visiting the region, but falls victim to his nemesis Jacques Levant. His motivations and faith are tested and his resolve to do God’s work gets pushed to the limit. When he is not writing Scott enjoys walking, a practice that actually led to his first attempt at writing a novel. He began making notes and writing prose about the mundane things around him. He tried to make the details sound interesting, even though it was just for his own pleasure. Eventually he found that he could expand his prose to “what if?” “What if I just kept walking?” “What if I, or my character, found a dead body in the ditch along the side of the path?” That was the premise for the first novel, “A Step Ahead of Death.” Scott McPherson is an avid trombone player and has played since he was nine years old. He marched in the Cornhusker Marching Band at the University of Nebraska and now takes advantage of one free football game a year by playing in the half-time show with the UNL Alumni Marching Band. He plays in the Lincoln Civic Orchestra and a community band from the nearby town of Waverly, Nebraska. Scott loves to sing as well, though his range seems to have diminished in recent years. He has sung in college and church choirs and remembers performing parts of Handel’s Messiah as a highlight of his singing experience. One little-known fact about Scott is that he once sang soprano in a boys choir. Scott plans to keep writing as long as the ideas flow and others show interest in his stories. He loves to interact with other writers or readers about what has become a passion in his life. Reviews are always welcome as are questions and comments.
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1 Response to AS I WALK IN WINTER

  1. Judi Borcher says:

    Very nice, Dr. McPherson….takes me on the same walk!

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