November a quiet reprieve

It’s November. And where I am (which is not where you are, I realize), it is warm and quiet outside.
The leaves, for the most part, have fallen from the trees and are resting on the forest floor while transforming themselves into something else.
The leaves in October have a crunch to them and they fly up when you walk through them. They still have energy and life, it seems, as though the leaves don’t need the trees to carry on living.
But in November, the leaves are quiet. They can’t be bothered to get out of the way so they just lie there, making the path softer, like a blanket. It’s as if they have tucked themselves in and have fallen asleep.
It’s the quiet I love best on a day like today; the quiet and the blue sky—a blue that is more brilliant than any other blue sky, or so I think on this warm November day.
I stroll on warm November days. It is the one time of year that I can calm the hurrying, where I am not ensuring I take the 150 steps per minute for adequate exercise; where I’m not planning my next chore.
I merely stroll with a somewhat relaxed brain. The quiet is restorative and replenishes my patience. And on a day like today, I feel grateful—grateful for almost everything—and almost nothing can get me down.
I like feeling grateful. I’m not grateful every day, despite trying, and some days I grumble and complain about nothing worthy of complaining about. But on a day like today, grumbling is impossible.
On days like today, you put on a toque and gloves, zip your jacket up, and head out the door with your shoulders pulled up to your ears. But that turns out to be an error in judgment, so you begin peeling and unzipping—and that’s where the freedom happens and the gratitude.
Winter is a bit like being obligated to run a marathon (or several marathons, depending on which particular Canadian winter you are bracing yourself to enjoy). You are on Mile 5 or 6, and some race official pulls you off to the side and says you must report to the spa and have your feet massaged before you can continue.
That’s what this kind of day is like, this warm day that lulls you into a false sense of acceptance. You calm yourself by saying, “How bad can winter really be?”
Winter is a bit like eating fast food; it seems like a good idea until you’re halfway through the greasy oozing burger and then your memory kicks back in. Oh, right, your stomach says, shaking its head in disappointment and readies itself to strike.
It’s right along those same lines of childbirth and labour, or getting a puppy. All good ideas at first glance.
Winter will collide with me with some force, undoubtedly. Winter will become the barrier between me and my car, me and the grocery store, me and the coffee shop.
Winter will frost up the windows and winter’s wind will try to get in the front door that should be replaced, and will rattle at the windows and swirl the snow up into waves on the lawn.
Winter will turn the car’s tires into concrete, will ice up the windshield, and bite at fingers and noses. Winter will freeze the pony’s water and turn his manure into stone.
Winter will hide the path through the woods and make me dig out the snowshoes to walk Gracie, and winter will make me wonder if I really need to walk Gracie today.
Winter will try to shut me in, but I’ll fight back. Most days.
Winter even may knock the wind out of me, but I hope I can recall this day, this reprieve—this surprise resting place.
wendistewart@live.ca

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