First Snow

I think of Paris, like I always do when life forcefully 
has me in retreat. It's odd I've been there so 
many times, but never in autumn. I imagine Versailles in the afternoon as parks and gardens ready themselves for winter.  
Snow came early here, it didn't stick 
but nonetheless impressed 
we have a long season to look forward to.
I have a complex relationship with snow that's only been furthered
by age. The first big storm finds me in my best mood, feeling I can 
conquer the world and absolutely anything and everything is possible.
I love being outside in snow, having nature humble me as I 
flirt with winter, letting her tease me with 
danger while teaching me to reach deep inside to push past the 
struggle just to stay in place.
The most wonderful thing in the world is 
being alone in a forest after a heavy snow when 
tree branches hang low from their added burden. 
Even rabbits seem too serious to break the pristine solitude with 
their silly hops, skips, and playful jumps.

There's a moment just before dawn when you're
as close as one can get to standing beside God. When wind still 
sleeps and the forest has a quiet defying the senses, as if snow absorbs 
every sound, every breath, and the absolute stillness leaves you in
a sense of serenity that can't be equaled anywhere else.
It must be that God's come to stand with you like an artist 
admiring his latest work. He knows there's nothing he can add 
magnify the moment so simply waits for the sun's arrival, and like you, 
can't imagine being anywhere else.

As dawn streaks through snow-ladened branches, squirrels come out to play, 
but with reverence, scoot quietly along the lower branches not 
wanting to be the ones who shatter the silence. 
From the distance, a elk steps into the open with her wobbly calf, pushing 
hard through chest deep snow so her baby can walk 
unhindered, just as Moms are supposed to do. 
She scratches the ground exposing a patch of high meadow grass as 
her baby strives to blaze a trail of self-determination.

As the sun reflects off the forest floor, first drops of melting 
tree branch snow bounce off your canvas coat, telling you
it's time to let God and nature get back to doing what they do. 
Wind is finally awake, and with a burst here and blush there, 
blows heavy snow off burdened branches to free 
the forest of responsibility, while reminding the mischievous squirrels 
who's in charge. Your footsteps crack the crusted snow in ushered echoes
you should leave. You smile past your departure, knowing 
this is just the first of a burgeoning winter filled 
with such mornings. It's an easy peaceful smile 
you long ago learned to cherish.