We don’t know if we’ll find it, but we’re going in search of happiness.
– Kilian Jornet
The snow is sparkling as I glide forward across the deserted lake, frozen now in the depths of winter. Bright sun glints off each individual snowflake, and the reeds shift in a gentle breeze. There are tracks of small creatures who came this way before I did, and I wonder if we’ll ever cross paths, even once removed, again. It is eerily still. Quiet. The thermometer says it’s -10, and if the news media is to be believed, you’d be foolish to even think about venturing outside into such frigid, inhospitable air.
To be fair, those who are without warm shelter or adequate winter wear undoubtedly suffer on days like this. To be homeless or in need of heat in the winter in Minnesota is something no one should have to experience. I am thankful for a warm house, a wood stove and poly fiber clothing – skiing across a frozen lake in negative temperatures would be a very different experience without them.
But since I do have those things, they color my perception of beauty on this day. There is beauty in the way the air pierces your breath and leaves it hanging just a moment longer in the stillness. There is beauty in the solitude that can be found when you leave the house and meld into a version of nature where your only companions are the birds who never seem to mind the cold. There is beauty in the blueness of the sky above the landscape of blinding white.
Sometimes I wonder if anyone else can see how blue the sky is on days like this. Maybe it’s just vivid blue when so many forget to look, or when so many can’t see because they are just trying to survive.
From inside the warm house, the snow is still sparkling, and the sun is still shining brightly down on the still and frozen waters of this land. The sky is still blue, but through the window it is less vivid. I wonder if I imagined its vibrancy before, or if in coming back into the house – away from the version of nature that includes birds and the creatures who left tracks before I did – I left part of my color vision outside the door.
Perhaps it’s not so foolish to venture out if it means you can see more clearly, if even just for a moment.
This post first appeared at Woodland Manitou.