Winter White

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Winter White

Above me the sky is white. Snow as fine as sand drifts down. Under my feet, the ground is white. I am cocooned by white. It is cold. The whole last week has been subzero. The temperature bottomed out at -40 degrees Fahrenheit a couple nights ago. Or that is my best guess, as my electronic thermometer quit reading after -39 degrees. I had no intention of poking my nose out the front door to look at the mercury thermometer. Cold is cold.

Now, it had warmed up to -7. Wow. Following days cooped up in the house, I went for a walk after I tossed hay to the horses in the evening. I had to move, had to get some air. The white light had just begun to fade as I set out in my insulated coveralls, warm coat, ski gloves, winter cap and fleece face cover. It was a wonder I could move. But move I did, down the canal trail. My body was glad to stretch and use itself. The snow on the ground was several inches above my ankles. It was a light, dry snow. I hit a rhythm as I swished through it.

If I held my breath, I could hear the snow tap against my coat. In this world of white, I could not see the flakes. They were an invisible touch to land and slide off of me to join their cousins that covered the ground. It was odd to move through this white world. Even though my legs moved, it felt as if I moved in place and the bushes scrolled past me.

White. Scientists say that what we see as white is a color that actually contains all of the colors of the spectrum. Maybe they should be here with me now. By the time they got bundled up and joined me, would they exclaim that this color that flourished in the cold was a wonder for all it contained? Or would they sniff, and turn to scuttle back to warmth and their research?

Right now, this color contained me. Like the glass snow-balls we shook as children to see the “snow” swirl inside, the white I stood in whirled around me. I even breathed it in, cold and sharp. How does it look when white hits the lungs and enters the bloodstream? Then, I pictured the white as it twirled upwards in a huge tornado that sucked all of the white out of the world. What would we be left with then? All of the colors would be gone if white left. Then all would be black, the color scientists claimed was the absence of color. For my part, I wanted white, even though at this time it was an ice cold white.

I walked on, or the landscape unwound past me. Soon, the white began to change to blue-grey as the unseen sun fell over the edge of the earth. The blue-grey escaped white’s spectrum as white left with the sun. Blue-grey must be adventuresome. I felt adventuresome. Being out in the dusk and dark always makes me feel adventuresome. I trekked along faster. The blue-grey got darker. Not only had it escaped from the white, it had thought to bring its shades along with it. Crafty blue-grey.

Familiar things looked different in the blue-grey half light. Or is that half life? A favorite cottonwood whose branches arched over the trail filled me with coziness, peace and safety in the light of day. Or even the white light. In the blue-grey light, I scurried under the arch of knobby, black branches that clawed the air above me. Phew. Made it.

Is this what a half life is? Half of a life gone and the remainder stares me in the face? The white light falls away over the edge of time and the edge of a life. Then I am left in the murk of what is left as I wander through the blue and the grey. I turn around and peer back into the direction I came from. There. There are my footsteps in the white. Or what was the white earlier. I squint and make out oblong dark grey impressions. The impressions are sunk deep into the white sand-snow. It is only white in my memory, as now it is blue-grey. Do I follow the dark grey shapes that lead me home? Or shall I move on, to make more dark grey marks in the white as I seek out the rest of the half life?

After all, I am adventuresome in the blue-grey half light. I must remember this. Yes. I will make more dark grey marks on the white. If I get lost, I can follow their dotted line home. I look above. There is a sliver of moon. It is misted through the fall of the white. It’s mellow glow fastens me to the white. I love the moon. The moon casts just enough light to take the edge off of the blue-grey threat of the last half of life. The hue of the blue-grey softens. My heart and spirit expand and if I were not constricted by so many clothes, I would sprint across the white towards the softened glow of the half life.

  1. Hi Jenny, your writing deepens my connection with nature. Years ago, you wrote about grasses. Because of that I began to photograph them and now will plant some in my backyard. Thank you. Ingeborg

  2. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Ingeborg. I think grasses are often overlooked, but I find them intriguing and beautiful. There is much power in them. I think you will enjoy them in your backyard. When they head out, they whisper to one another.

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