Andrew Terrill

The outdoor diary of a writer, photographer, and wilderness wanderer

A Fleeting Gift

JANUARY 10TH was the first morning of the year that felt like a real winter morning. For sure, it wasn’t close to as cold as January can be, and the single inch of snow was hardly midwinter deep, but for the first time in 2021 the foothills above Golden were white, and for the first time they sparkled.

Goodness how they sparkled!

Wandering across the land, I celebrated every frosted step. Progress was slow. There was too much to see to travel quickly, too much to savor. You’d think after living in these foothills for 17 years I’d have grown blasé about such mornings, but if anything the reverse is true. The more I experience such pristine winter conditions the more my delight in them grows. It’s as though each new round of winter adds an extra layer of appreciation, and an extra layer of gratitude. I find myself thinking: how can I be so lucky to get this – again! Growing up in suburban London, I often dreamed about winter wonderlands, but didn’t experience a single one, at least not like this. I doubt I’ll ever take such mornings for granted.

There’s the fleetingness too – it raises my appreciation even further, increases my awe. Here in the foothills, such conditions seldom last. The hoarfrost coating twigs and needles, the snow on the ground: it often vanishes within hours. Winter utterly transforms the land, creates an altered environment, a more pristine world, a fantasy almost. It takes one to an entirely different place without one having to leave home, but then it’s gone… in moments. And for me, that only makes it all the more precious.

I see a lesson in it, a reminder: to treasure the gifts we have when we have them, regardless of whether or not they last. Life itself is but a fleeting thing in the scheme of things, but to do anything less than treasure each breath of it is to waste the gift it is.

It’s something I try to remember, and mornings like this truly help.

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