I could see it coming from half a mile away. It wasn’t here just yet, but it would be soon. The air to the northwest was becoming more and more opaque. The wind had picked up and carried with it a deeper chill.
There has, for years, been something very special to me about being in the woods during archery season when the first real snows of the year blew in. It’s one of the moments that I look forward to each deer season, but don’t always get to experience. Sitting in a treestand, watching the wall of snowflakes approach from across a field, or through the hardwoods, somehow has always brought me a wonderful sense of peace and tranquility. I deeply inhale those first breaths of winter, watching tall, rust colored grasses sway in protest to the coming season. I listen to the whispering static of the flakes throwing themselves at the last remaining oak leaves. It brings me to a place where I feel I’m a greater part of it all. It brings a sense of belonging. To the land. To the Earth. It’s one of those absolutely beautiful moments in the woods where I can only stand there and absorb as much of it as I can. Here, in this moment, I’m no longer an intruder.
After a while, the snow falls harder. The wind gusts blow swirling waves of snowflakes across the fields and through the woods. As hard as it’s coming down, the snow still isn’t able to stick to anything. The squirrels seem to sense what’s coming soon. They pick up their pace, collecting and hoarding all the acorns they can gather. Always looking over their shoulders for the fox whose den is nearby. Chickadees flit about abruptly, almost nervously, looking for seeds among the branches. I turn up the back of my collar against the wind. I can feel the flakes melting on my face as I strain to look through it all for the forms of deer. Nothing is moving out there. Yet, everything around me is moving. I’ve always been struck by this contrast, of how the scene before me can be filled with so much movement and busy energy, and at the same time, seem so very still and calm. Silent, cozy and welcoming, despite the cold wind.
I take these moments home from the woods with me and store them away for a time when I long for them.
Camera: Canon EOS 1Ds Mark 3