Sunday, November 2, 2014

First Snow

     I arrived in the middle of the night, at the truck stop a few miles from Cloud. The young cashier groaned while I paid for my coffee.

     "This time shift is killing me," she said, referring to the end of daylight savings time. "It was almost 2 o'clock, and now it's just after 1 again! And it's cold too!"

     Yes. It was cold, alright. And I was down from Toronto to do some winterizing before that cold really set it. On the drive from Buffalo I went though two other areas where the snow was coming down thick enough to obscure my vision, with an inch or two already on the ground. Other areas were completely clear of the stuff. But it wasn't a surprise that Prattsburg was one of the areas that was being covered: so high up in the hills as it was, it always got a lot more snow than lower lying Naples, for example.

     Cloud was as tranquil as ever when I arrived. It didn't take long to get a fire going, but the chill didn't abate very much before I climbed to bed in the loft. It was a little warmer up there, but the sheets were so cold that it took awhile to warm them with my body heat.

     What a combination of feelings to come here from bustling Toronto in the middle of a fall night, coming into the quiet, the darkness. I always feel that space opens up around me when I'm here. Though it's been over two years now, there is still sometimes a sense of entering a strange and somewhat hidden land. But it quickly shifts into a sense of reconnecting with a known place, where I belong. There's a sense of whatever time has passed since the last trip here, weeks ago. But also a sense of the changeless, the permanent, the secure.

     The little cabin is now full of art on the walls. There are Ponczka's paintings, the largest of which depicts the view from our bedroom in Toronto: our deck, the red, yellow and blue, whirling wind-catcher that's mounted there, the Tree of Heaven and the Maple, both planted since we moved in and now rising up high enough that they obscure the row of homes we face, backside-to-backside. Others of her paintings are on her easel, or leaning beside it, some of them in-progress studies of the surrounding landscape that she's begun at various times through the seasons, then has put aside until those seasons return again.

     There is also the painting by Krysia, depicting a dark, looming storm cloud, but which we've discovered depicts a more uplifting scene of sun beginning to overcome the darkness, when we hang it upside down, which we sometimes do. There are small, found art compositions of feather, stick and bone, from Shadow, who lived here before us. And there's a small antler wrapped and hanging in twine, that Wisia added.

     As night progresses, I'm up a couple of times to reload the wood stove and work up the dimming embers. Light is slowly coming into the world, and I peer out at our yard, the pond beyond, the low hills beyond that. Slowly, shapes emerge in the soft light, but I only study them for moments before hurrying back to the now warm sheets.

     I only learn later, when I stop by our neighbors, Julie and Red, that last night's snow was the first of the year. That bit of info feels right, too, like the easy welcome of these friends, who collect any packages they see tied to our roadside mailbox, to hold for us.

     Am I a different person when I'm here? It seems so. There are different forces, different energies and pressures, and presences here in this world. And they seem to reshape who I am and can be.  Shadow says that there are Night People here, spirit essences that will interact with you if invited, and that they are kind. I haven't issued the invitation yet, but I feel something here that I sense as warm, accepting if not welcoming. I could say that it feels like Life that is accepting of Life. There are always so many creatures here on Cloud: mice who steal into the cupboards, deer that leave their prints in the night, black and orange caterpillars who survive, how?, birds of every kind. Ladybugs are everywhere, seemingly indifferent to us, constant reminders that it is us who are the impermanent factors here, who merely come and go, like the night, the cold, like the first snow of a season.

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