I like sitting down by our little creek here at Pokeberry Pines. Low in this small valley carved by moving water, the sound of traffic a half-mile away fades to a faint hum. This morning there is no wind, so the trees are as still as a rabbit sensing danger. Nothing moves in my field of vision, but tiny sounds are amplified by the hushed space.
A squirrel moans repeatedly, probably disturbed by my presence. As I sit still, birds emerge from their quiet observation to chatter once more. A white-throated sparrow whistles over in the meadow. A blue jay screeches in the distance. Tufted titmice and Carolina chickadees begin to call their buzzy dee-dee-dee sounds. A downy woodpecker trills. Yellow-rumped warblers tsk-tsk all around me while a hermit thrush sings its mellow song.
Soon I see movement. Birds flitting among the naked tree branches, throwing shadows around the forest as the morning sun breaks through a cloud. A Carolina wren ruptures the quiet symphony with his freakishly loud teakettle-teakettle-teakettle. A brown creeper spirals up a nearby tree, searching for spiders and insects in the bark’s crevices. A flock of robins fly in unison to a nearby cedar tree.
Here by the creek, winter’s palette of grays and browns make the woods seem larger. Gone is the lush growth of summer leaves filling the canopy in a cloak of chlorophyll. Now, the few remaining greens are deep and dark – pine needles up high, spiny holly leaves below, and tufts of Christmas ferns scattered across the forest floor. The only bright greens are patches of moss sprawled across rocks, mingling with the lichen.
I rise and crunch across the still-frozen ground which is bulging with frost-heave. It has been below freezing for three days here, in the single digits at night. The air is cold and crisp and dry. My skin feels rough, cracked, and my nose is red, but my heart is full of wonder as I wander deeper into the pines and smell the fresh scent of evergreen from boughs broken off by the recent storm.
In this moment, this is all there is… Me. Here. In the woods. Among the birds and squirrels. Crunching over frozen ground. And it is enough.
As this year comes to a close, I hope you can notice the precious moments you are given and know that they are enough.