Into the snowy silence

IMG_1416Snow silences everything. I have always loved the moment right after it has fallen. The bright light, the blinding whiteness, but especially the new silence of a familiar landscape. In that quiet world my footsteps and breaths seem amplified. While the inaudible wind blows flakes from the pine trees, creating the illusion of yet more snow, I feel isolated. I hear nothing — and everything. My light, quick steps on the packed snow seem to echo through the forest, like a muffled base drum.

Below me Big Bear Lake is bustling. The roads and ski slopes are packed with families. K. and I are visiting friends at their wonderful house here at the edge of the woods. On this last day of the year I had to run, of course, so I took off in 20-degree weather, into the fresh snow, wearing a few layers and my new La Sportiva Helios trail shoes. (Review to follow, but let me reveal now they are fantastic.)

For two hours I carefully chose my steps on the slippery hills. My mind drifted, exulted, and then it quieted, like the forest I was exploring.

As I passed vistas of the unquiet world below, a quote came to mind. Forgive me for paraphrasing and not remembering the source. It’s from a runner who wrote about running, and I quote it in my own book. The meaning comes down to this:

            He who runs is lucky, for he has found something in himself that is perfect.

IMG_1418I have always taken that to mean a combination of things: the urge to go and be outside often; an easy way to do the healthiest thing imaginable and stay young; the ability to see parts of the world one would otherwise miss. And the opportunity to be alone and quiet, surrounded by simple beauty, as I was today. I think that’s the perfection he was writing about.

A happy new year to all. May it be peaceful and exciting (and for those so inclined: speedy!)