The ground is covered with a thin, crusty layer of snow. Shades of grey swirl together in the sky until they merge into the shadows of distant mountains, confusing my senses and leaving me to wonder where one ends and the other begins. My breath is visible in the air for brief moments, until crisp wind washes the space around me without thought or apology...leaving this space vacant, quiet, and completely still.
My mind searches for warmth and drifts to colorful memories...to vibrant shades of blue, green, and yellow. My ears reach out to hidden sounds...to squirrels rustling in the woods and the hollow echo of a distant woodpecker. And then, just as I become mesmerized by the striking and simple beauty of this cold morning, I hear a familiar sound. A gentle whine.
My skin feels tight over my muscles as I walk toward the house, careful to avoid any ice still sleeping on the steps. My fingers refuse to linger, numbly manipulating the handle on the back door, as it tends to stick in icy weather.
Inside, my body tingles, struggling to adjust to warmth, to the gentle rhythms of my kitchen, to the bright colors teasing my eyes, and the reassuring tick of the clock on the wall.
Then I feel it...that familiar and friendly sensation of warm breath behind my knee and soft fur brushing against my legs. Should I feel relieved to be inside, safe, sound, and warm...or simply grateful I was able to fully experience the hidden beauty of this cold morning? With a small sigh, I gaze down and smile softly at my dog.
I give her a snack and pour myself a cup of tea. If I'm lucky, she won't need to go outside again for a few hours.