A guest post by Hannah Ewing.
The sound of falling snow captivates my ears and soft flakes flutter gracefully to the ground. The world around me is silent. For the moment I have escaped the busy world that is full of obligation, stress, and standards. My usually busy mind is settled by the crunching of snow beneath my feet. Listening to my thoughts, I note that they have grown quiet with the cold. With each step I travel deeper into forest that is billowing with snow. With each step my face loses feeling. With each step I grow more in tune with the melodious rhythm of nature. If only for a moment the world has slowed down.
I allow the frigid air to fill my lungs and air tickles inside my chest. Exhaling, a cloud of steam swirls in the air and within a few moments it vanishes. Downy flakes dance all around. One lands on my nose and my eyes cross as I watch the snowflake transform into water. The snow blankets the path and branches arc under its weight. I progress deeper into the forest and the world around me begins to transition from a quick step to a slow melodious waltz. The world moves to a slower rhythm and I can take time to observe it. I begin to notice all the subtle beauties of the forest like how the ruby red berries contrast the white snow or the snow sparkling when the sun peaks out from behind the clouds.
Dancing from thought to thought, my mind leaps from poetry, pirouettes to sweet memories of my family, and tangos onto nothingness. A cold wind blows on my icy cheeks and I snap back into awareness. The snow begins to fall again and the temperature plummets relentlessly downward. I consider if I want to return to the school. I am so joyful in the wilderness and for the first time in the past four months I feel like I belong. Like the forest, my beauty is only seen by people who take the time to look for it. Recently, I have felt a bit transparent and brushed off by the surrounding world. The crunching of snow under my feet and the chill in the air make the transparency disappears as well as my desire to be understood by the outside world. Like I see the beauty of the forest, my family sees the beauty inside of me.
The snow wipes away all of the impurities from the landscape just as it wipes away all the problems from my family’s past to reveal what is truly important. My sibling’s illness, parents’ divorce, and other hardships that once seemed catastrophic are now rendered insignificant. This is because, in comparison to the love I have for my family and the love they have for me, none of those problems are significant. Nature has put my life into perspective. Nature filters out all the unnecessary things and reduces it down to what truly matters.
My walk in the snow covered forest was not the only time that nature, and snow more specifically, put my life into perspective. The snow covered boughs brought me back to one of the most difficult times in my life. My mother was very ill at the time and it seemed like my entire world was about to be shattered; then the snow came. It was the combination of freshly fallen snow and the smile on my little brother Garrett’s face that erased everything. We could be kids again and if only for a little bit we could forget all the problems that we faced that we were too young to handle. The snow was our escape.
Garrett and I went wandering into the snow. I turned around and a snowball came hurling towards my face. Fragments of half melted snow ran down the bridge of my nose and I fired back with a snowball of my own. The snowball hit his blonde hair and he exploded with laughter. We spent all day in the snow and eventually our troubles no longer mattered. The time Garrett and I had spent in the snow quieted our problems and revealed that we were the most important thing in each others life.Though my mother was still sick, our troubles did not seem so daunting because we knew that we had each other.
I watch the clouds as they drift across the horizon. The sun’s buttery yellow light illuminates the dark storm clouds in the distance. The sun is halfway below the horizon but I want to stay surrounded by the snow and cold. The snow, if only briefly, has helped make sense of my life by removing the feeling of emptiness and replacing it with my family’s love. Plato said, “Trees and fields tell me nothing; men are my teachers” Though Plato is thought to be scholarly, in truth, trees and fields are filled with knowledge. From my past experiences and my experiences today, nature puts life into perspective. Without nature humans cannot define who they truly are; therefore, great writers and thinkers cannot define what they truly wish to express.
I begin to retrace my steps but find that they are already covered with snow. Twilight has arrived and I see lights from the neighboring houses in the distance. Rhymes of Robert Frost echo in my head, “The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep”. His words remind me that I must enter back into the world that is full of stress and noise. Just because I leave the snow covered forest does not that mean I have lost all that I gained while in nature. My experience in nature has put my life into perspective at a time when it was needed most. Noise, stress, and family matters that are covered by the snow and in the long run have no significance. Having a family who knows who I am and loves me unconditionally is all that matter.
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