The way the days get longer seems much faster than the time they take to get shorter. Early January the effect is very pronounced and each minute the morning comes sooner seems so much more obvious. The effect on my mood is profound and each passing day I find myself feeling more at ease. Also each day I find myself more hopeful, optimistic to what the future may bring. I see the same around me and as I look out the window, awakening from the slumber of the holidays propels everyone to more activity. People walking by seem to stand just a bit straighter, their stride just a bit stronger. Their breaths are just a bit deeper.
The optimism brings back memories of a holiday years ago. I went on a trip in Germany, hiking through the hills, my hopes were high for snow. I stayed there in an apartment in a small town. It was in the valley surrounded by the hills and the apartment was well on the incline on the hill. I looked down the street towards the village center. It was by all means a pleasant place. There was a relaxed pace to the town, people moved mindfully, aware of each other, space for each other, calm and collected.
One morning I woke up and the room I was in just felt bright somehow. When I opened the blinds it quickly became clear why. It had snowed heavily. The road was covered in a thick white blanket and snow lay heavy on the roofs of the houses. Even the balcony of my apartment was covered in a layer of snow. The child in me wanted to go outside, to enjoy the snow. The adult in me already got cold from just the thought of it. Curiosity got the best of me and I opened the door. The first thing I noticed was the silence. It felt deafening. The bright white light and almost overwhelming silence. And the cold as well. I quickly went back inside, I put on warmer clothes, made coffee and wiped clean a part of the balcony and a chair there to sit outside and enjoy the scenery.
Then they started, church bells. Deafened by the snow, they were very clearly present, echoing throughout, reflected against the buildings. They had the ability to slow down time. Each time they rang, it would resound longer and the next would take longer to come. Then it stopped altogether. My mind raced to take it all in, the perpetually humming of this last bell reflecting against the buildings. Knowing that when it stopped, time started flowing normally again.
From a distance I could see others with a similar wonder, watching outside. Some time went by as breakfasts were had and children prepared. Before long the screaming of children outside was heard, including the thuds of snow balls. Adults though could be seen from a distance, hiding inside while watching the wonder outside. It was calming.
I felt the zen-like quality of the moment was going to eventually come to an end. I was getting cold, my coffee long gone. Restlessness got the best of me and I went out myself. Various layers of clothing were there to protect me from the cold. Climbing up the hill, paths through the forest had led me to grand vistas, the world of snow below me. The towns below were covered in a white blanket. Fields of grass and cut wheats formed a white wave suspended in time. It gave an impression of movement. Forests stood out. Trees stood proud, defiant against the white wave. Snow covered the forest floors, that much was clear, even from a distance, but the trees would not give.
Moving on, the same view greeted me here. The tall trees and white snow, together forming a black and white image. The light of the snow is simply overwhelming compared to the trees, their dark barks could be rich in color and all this snow will only make them look black. I tread heavy as I continue up the hill. The thick snow compresses under my feet, each step deliberate and slow and steady. Gradually the path evens out and I reach the top of the hill. I watch the snow as far as I can. I take it in as much as I can, I haven’t walked much in this snow and I’ve had few views to enjoy like this. Gradually snow plows clear roads and the snow is carved up to make room for our own lives. With that, the beauty is carved up too and the moment fades.
As it’s far beyond noon and the sun wanes. My inner child had never truly left. I grab my plastic saucer, hold on to the handle and given the hours it took me to get up, I rejoice in getting down in just a few minutes. Once back at the apartment, I’m overwhelmed by calm and clarity as the experiences sink in. It was a good day in the snow.