It has been snowing hard all afternoon, coming down densely, but in small flakes so it doesn’t feel as heavy as some snowfalls. And the storm, which was originally forecast to drop 12-18 inches, has been downgraded to 6-8. Still, it is beautiful out, late afternoon, about quarter after four, the final dark shades of day before twilight falls.
For a while now I’ve had a hankering to go out and spend a long time in the tree in a snowstorm, and I had imagined something wild and violent and swirling, a Nor’easter with high winds and a foot or two of snow, a pummeling blizzard–but for now, this will have to do. I dig my oldest, puffiest, most gigantic L L Bean parka from the back of the closet and, astonishingly, find in a drawer the hood I unzipped from it the day I got it a decade or so ago. The hood is also huge. Wearing it is like having my head in its own fur-lined tent. I don’t like hoods, but for this it will be useful.
When I head out, encased in snow boots, snow pants, parka and gloves, the world is bluish and full of snow. I make my way to the tree and clamber a little awkwardly up into the branches, feeling a bit like a bear or some other ungainly creature with my added bulk. I am still limited to the lower branches by my rotator cuff injury, about fifteen or twenty feet off the ground, but there is no good place to sit higher up anyways.
I situate myself facing back into the woods so I can watch the snow falling sideways through the trees. I am seated on a branch that is too slender to be really comfortable, but it is tolerable if I shift sideways a bit toward the trunk, one thigh on the branch and the other leg dangling down. My upper body is between two other branches at about chest height, so I can lean back against one and rest my arms in front of me on the other. The hood extends so far out from my face that it’s a bit like looking out of the end of a tunnel onto the woods. I feel like a creature peering out of a burrow. But it shields my face from the heavily falling snow.
I sit, unmoving. Time passes and snow piles up on my arms, my hands. I have the tantalizing thought that if I spent hours out there I would become part of the landscape. Just another thing mounded high with snow. There is little wind and the snow is falling at a steady gentle slant, coming in through the trees, sifting through the branches. Slowly the light becomes darker and more bluish. The woods are silent. The only sound is the faint susurration of snowflakes landing on my hood, and then that disappears too as they begin falling on others of their own kind, snow piling up silently on snow; head, shoulders, and arms disappearing under a blanket of white.
I am a drift in the woods.