Saturday, March 2, 2013

Ice Spirits

Winter has finally arrived in western North Carolina. With 9 days above 60 degrees in December, and 7 in January (temps hit 70 degrees both months as well), we'd been sailing through Winter 2012-13 with mittens gathering dust in the basket. But Old Man Winter apparently woke up and "Whoa! It's almost spring, I'd better get to work!" 

Last week I spent some time roaming around Flat Creek in Montreat, captivated by the dance of sunlight on ice. This delightful creek flows through the Montreat campground which is closed during the winter, much to the delight of hikers, dog walkers, and women with cameras. Several trails lead off the campground up into the mountains, and if one were so inclined, one could easily park at the gate and walk for days. 

I saw no one else on this day, however, as I picked my way under and around large trees toppled by the ferocity of recent winter winds. The air was still, the temps warming into the day, and the creek rushing. The sunlight bouncing off the ice was dazzling. It was a perfect day for exploring.

Camera in hand, I attempted to capture the winter beauty in spite of the bright conditions. At first the ice just looked like, well, ice. But as I became more fully present and looked closer, I saw more. Was that a broad shouldered ice fellow slipping away through the rhododendron branches?

Alongside the bank, a group of giggling ice spirits clustered together...I could swear I heard them giggle.

Farther downstream, a wise old elephant kept watch alongside a waterfall.

And ice spirits dangled their toes toward the rushing water beneath. 

This day was a wonderful reminder of the joys of taking time to slow down.

As I write this, it is still cold outside, snow in the forecast. But Lucy and I are keeping warm. The desk has been relocated to a spot by the stove for the winter, which makes for cozy early mornings. The corner stove puts off a surprising amount of heat, and I tend to leave it on until we're just a degree or two away from spontaneous combustion. By this time of year, I am looking forward to spring, sunshine, and flowers. But this weekend I find myself also savoring the last of winter. Maybe a pot of chili today!

There is a time for everything, 
and a season for every activity under heaven...
He has made everything beautiful in its time.

Ecclesiastes 3