The Green That Is Left

December 14, 2021

Yesterday was warm, today is warm, tomorrow will be warmer. Where is December? It’s been lingering between 45 and 55 for the past few days, which is strange. When I got out of the car up on the ridge, a man was painting near the trail—I’ve seen him there before. He has a certain spot to paint in. I went on my way, choosing a different path today. The sky is a bright blue, and it is streaked with fine lines of clouds that shimmer in the sun. A mare’s tail cloud but it covers the whole sky. The patterns are gorgeous, and I find myself staring up at the bright blue sky and examining the cloud shapes and almost fall because of it. The temperature is perfect, and there’s the slightest breeze that sends along a pure smell of damp earth and wood. 

My eye catches the last bits of green here and there, so I begin inspecting all the green that is left: a few hearty hay-scented ferns, glossy Christmas ferns, and then I notice the moss: great, happy vibrant, glowing mounds of moss wherever you walk. The moss is finally getting all the sun, and it’s been wet, so they are faring quite well. I walk off trail and study several different kinds of moss that are familiar to the area. I don’t know their names, but I know their colors and shapes. 

Off in the distance, I can see the pond through the trees, and the water is a brilliant blue reflecting the color of the sky. I am taken by the view, framed by hemlock branches filled with cones and birch branches with catkins, coming closer until I notice that the water is quite still, the surface seems frozen, and I am amazed by how different the view is here, in this particular spot. I had gone off trail, and I realized I had never before in all my walks seen it from this precise location, time, season. I had a moment of pure nowness, that, I realize, is why I walk.

Notes: The cold has returned this week! Last night there was a full moon—called the Cold December moon—and tomorrow is the winter solstice. In appreciation of the short days and long nights, I am taking a break here. I send wishes of good will and good health to all in the new year!