On sunny days in the winter, as long as the wind is not too strong, a walk outside can be just what the doctor ordered, especially after days of snow and gloom. It’s wise to take a pair of sunglasses, just in case — the sun reflecting off the snow can be blinding, although as the sun begins to sink after too short a day, the light softens.
The land seems sculpted, all the busy details covered in a drift of white that goes on and on, up to the Wood. Here and there, a clump of pines or spruce, their branches still covered in snow, play host to clouds of sparrows, chattering back and forth about how lucky they are to find such a cozy place to roost.
The other trees, elm and maple and oak and linden, stand naked, the intricacies of branch and twig laid bare — although the oaks are reluctant to part with their leaves, and are still clothed, at least partially, in cloaks of russet and dun. (And if you look carefully toward the ends of the branches, you’ll see untidy clumps of leaves and twigs, home to squirrels. They prefer oaks, but it seems any tree will do in a pinch.)
And there are tracks, of course — around the bases of the trees, squirrel tracks, where they’ve gone leaping over the snow (as much as they could — no one likes a wet, cold belly), stopping from time to time to dig down to see if, perhaps, this is where they buried some choice bit of dinner. Rabbit tracks are closer to the edge of the Wood, where the snow cover is not quite so deep and dried grasses and herbs are easier to find. And there are bird tracks — not many, since most everyone is sticking to the trees, or foraging deeper in the Wood, but crows are about, as always, although even they, who will eat almost anything, are finding life easier away from the meadow.
And now the sun seems very serious about retiring for the night, so it’s time to return home to a nice warm fireplace and good food and company. But it was nice to be out.