If only you could hear the sound of snow.
Deep cold, falling snow and ice, one expects such things in January. From time to time, skies at sunrise are clear and bright blue, and they seem to go on and on forever. More often, heavy clouds roll in, and all the north is a tempest of blowing white. I've written of such winter days before and often: intervals when a winter squall appears out of nowhere and the world in the gorge and out by the lake is so quiet one can hear snow falling and coming to rest on the trees. When asked why I live where I do, I always mention the beauty of northern autumns, but I should be talking about these magnificent astonishing winters. Every single one is a marvel, and lost in the whirling white is a good place to be.
I arose early a few days ago, looked out the window at the storm coming in and fumed silently. It was not the weather that made me surly and morose that morning, it was the absence of light. Dark clouds covered the sky from horizon to horizon, and the sun was completely blotted out. In early January, one will do almost anything for a little light.
The cure for such winter intervals of peevishness and gloom is simple - get out the parka and heavy gloves, make a flask of hot tea, grab snowshoes and camera, then make tracks for the gorge above Dalhousie Lake. The winding road to the lake is slick with ice and treacherous, but strange to relate, it is balm to a winter weary spirit too, and it's an essential element in this ardent and arduous journey into the wild.
The guardian trees on the heights are manitous who stand looking over the frozen landscape in robes of white. Sometimes standing up there feels like being in the high Himalayas, although no trees grow at such lofty and exalted heights. From below on the beach, I can see nothing of the farther shore. The walls of the gorge amplify sound wonderfully, and the north wind speaks (or sings) volumes as it makes its way down the deep corridor of old stone. Joints protesting, I bend to look closely at snow on spruces at the bottom of the ravine, and every crystal is a sea of light. When I catch a flake on my tongue, it tastes like champagne. Who was that flaky female mourning the absence of light a few hours ago? One thing is certain - the English language could use a few more words for such wonders as this snow.