The snow has been falling for two straight days. On this particular day we set off for a sledding adventure. Each new step forged over prairie, out through the vast unknown. I know this field well, or at least I thought I did. I’ve been exploring it for three years now.
But like a good student, I’ve always followed the rules, stayed on footpaths, gone where I’m told and where obvious others before me have gone. I don’t dare break these guidelines because I know all too well that if I leave the path and follow the steps my eyes would like me to take, unexpected snakes dwell like strict teachers waiting with rulers. Plus, my Littles are usually in tow and I feel it is my job as their guide to keep them respectfully on the path.
Today, though, the Littles are far ahead on the path with their dad. I stay back, linger, until I am momentarily forgotten. It is not out of disrespect to the small grasses and baby plants and slivers of new pines that I stray from the safety of the rules which are really in place for protection, not to control one’s adventure. No, I do not wish to cause harm. But the snow has fallen and covered our prairie, blanketed it enough to tease me into the unknown. I know I must go. Solidifying my choice, the wind has brought on it a message which I can hear as a whisper in my ear, “Leave the path, walk this way.” I accept the invitation, knowing snakes don’t live under a frozen canvas of snow. I go, moving forward, each foot sinking down low, plunging through the crunchy layers of ice.
Above, snowflakes gently swirl to the ground like a sprinkling of fine sugar. I can hardly believe it, but I don’t wish to photograph every beautiful thing I see. No, instead I still myself and settle into a search, and then my gaze begins to settle as well. Brown circles, perfect, hollow, dot a delicate branch. I do not know what kind of plant it is or why I don’t recall having ever noticed it before. “Ellipses”, comes to mind. I quickly set up my camera for the shot. After I have captured this simple plant three ways complex thoughts begin to flood my mind. So many sentences in my life right now ending in …
Still aware of having broken the rules, I quickly say a blessing because this moment has awarded me an answer. Simply, “Thank You”, and then, like a fox, I run, leaping out of the snow, back to the path, back to my family. My creative spirit and enlightenment seeking soul has been sated, fed for another day.
To see more of my collection of nature inspired photography from my winter walks, I invite you to visit my Flickr gallery: Winter Wonder.