FOR ME, GETTING out on foot into nature is a priority. I’m certain that I could manage just fine if I didn’t have frequent contact with wild places, but I’m profoundly glad that I don’t have to test this theory to find out if it’s true!
I’ve made it a priority because nature grounds me. It provides balance, perspective, and inspiration. It keeps me moving forward. I swear it keeps me young. A day without the earth beneath my feet is a day only half lived.
By choice (and good fortune) I live with open space mere steps from my front door, and I try to make the most of this. Life with its responsibilities could easily limit how often I go, and to a degree it does. Instead of going every day all day (and all night) I try to strike a balance. But ‘every day’ still remains a goal, and this year – so far – I’ve managed to achieve it.
One of many benefits from daily contact with nature is being keyed into change. Some of the changes are subtle, such as the slow thawing of a massive snowdrift, or the evolving habits of a herd of deer, and some are dramatic: like the daily changes in weather. I shared several photos in my previous blog post that show winter’s ebb and flow, and I want to do the same again with this blog because recent changes have been striking. Over the last ten days winter has provided ample reward for stepping outside – as I hope these photos show!
Since first discovering mountains for myself three and half decades ago I’ve dreamt of spending an entire winter holed up in some remote mountain cabin. I picture myself watching snow deepen week by week. At one time, I lamented that winter didn’t do that here in my adopted home in Colorado’s Front Range, where instead of lasting for months it comes and goes daily. But such feelings of disappointment have long gone, disregarded as ‘missing the point’, for not appreciating everything I now have. (Home here definitely isn’t suburban London!) I now appreciate the winters I do have specifically because they come and go. If snow were to build up day after day it would be thrilling, but I’m not certain it would be as interesting or as varied. In the past two weeks I’ve walked through fog and freezing drizzle, through a fantasy-realm of hoar frost and rime ice, through warm sunshine and beneath blue skies, and through heavy falling snow. The variety has been truly spectacular.
I still dream of that remote winter cabin, and maybe one day the dream will come true. But for now I’ll very happily take what I’ve got! It makes stepping outside and heading uphill every single day a sheer pleasure.