I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery – air, mountains, trees, people.  I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.”

-Sylvia Plath


An icy cold wind blows tonight, not constant, but in gusts.  Its cold, biting tendrils probe for gaps in the insulating layers of my winter clothing and, finding none, slap me in the face with teeth that sting.  It’s dark out and my headlamp illuminates a circle of windblown snow where I will need to plant my feet in just a few steps.  The whiteness does not cover all, there is less than an inch of accumulation, but the lawn has no bare spots and, in the low places, there are slippery sheets of solid ice that need to be circumnavigated to avoid disaster.  I can see scattered blades of grass poking up through what snow the wind has left behind and it assures me that the snow will almost all be gone tomorrow, when the temperature is forecast to rise above fifty.  Waldo romps through it with no apparent thought of finding secure footing and, no doubt due to his four-paw drive and low center of gravity, only occasionally slips a bit.  Somehow, he’s able to find good enough purchase to be able to pull at the leash and drag me forward when he sees something ahead that needs investigating.  Something that happens all the time.

The sky is cloud-free and stars sparkle overhead like glittering shards of ice.  The white and muddy-gray moon, tonight in gibbous phase, floats overhead like a dirty snowball.  Everything everywhere seems to be on a gray spectrum somewhere between blinding white and impenetrable black.  All the colors are still there, of course, but the light level is too low for the cones in my retinas to perceive them.  It reminds me of the scuba-diving days of my youth, lo those many years ago.

Water absorbs the longer wavelengths of light, better than those shorter, and below about thirty feet, everything appears blue and green.  Swimming around in the depths, it’s as if all was illuminated by green and blue lamps, instead of white-yellow sunlight filtered by seawater.  Much of it, you would expect to be green, like seaweed and other plants that you’re not used to seeing above water.  Unless you’re an ichthyologist, you don’t really know what fish and the other magical living critters down there look like in white light.  But then you go on a night dive, where you bring along your own source of white light, a diving lamp, and what you experience is phenomenal.  All the reds, yellows and oranges jump out and greet you in a showering display of opulence.  Fish shine in all the colors of the rainbow.  Christmas tree worm gills smile at you with hues you won’t find on a fir or spruce.  Everywhere, there is a riot of color, like nothing you can experience above water — except in a few exceptional places.  I wonder how those critters evolved all that color when they live in a place where it can’t be seen.  Maybe they have better eyesight than we do.

Late-night scenery and underwater menageries are apt metaphors for what life has to offer.  There is so much beauty and magic in the mundane world we live in.  All we need is the right light to shine on it in order for us to experience it.  A light not of electromagnetic origin, but of open-minded attention.  All we have to do is shine the light of our discerning intelligence out on the world and what comes back to our senses is awesome.  Open your awareness in a nonjudgmental, non-objectifying, egoless, nonintellectual way and the world shines forth with elegance, deep meaning and heart-warming loveliness that will make you gasp in wonder.  Listen to Mother Nature breathe with the wind and sing in delicious melodic lilts through the medium of birdsong.  See her shine in the full spectrum of shimmering iridescence in bird feathers and flower petals.  Smell the near infinite variety of odors (to our best ability to do so) that she offers in the air that envelops us.  Open the pores of your soul to take in as much of the atmosphere she bathes us in as you can and let her take your mind where it will.  She will lead you to idyllic realms where poets and artists roam.

Finally, Waldo and I return to our building and the comfy warmth it provides.  I shed my winter shell and Waldo curls up on his bed on the living room floor.  It’s time for bed and for both of us to temporarily shed our consciousness, to rest and provide respite in preparation for tomorrow.  And the world will be there then still, awaiting our return.

We just have to make sure we are not somewhere or somewhen else.


I do believe those are deer tracks.

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