Story and photos by Madis Senner
One of my great joys in the winter is to spend some time in reflection or meditation in the woods on an evening with a gentle snowfall. Even a contemplative walk will do the trick. It is so quiet, so serene at twilight. When the warmth of the day still hangs in the air and has yet to be chased away.
There is a magic to this setting. Robert Frost recognized this and wrote about it in his poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. He understood how unusual it must been to stop in the middle of nowhere on a snowy evening and asks,
My little horse must think it queer
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
It is so peaceful in the woods in the winter time. The snow on the ground muffles any sound. And the gently falling snow creates a veil that blocks out other intruders.
The quiet is deafening. It is this silence like the falling snow that smothers all my competing thoughts and concerns. I can just be and take in the experience of the beauty and wonder of the woods.
Or if I want I can reflect and see clearer because I am shrouded by the quiet of the woods. Is there anything more peaceful, a scene quieter? I think not. But then again I grew up in the Finger Lakes and love the snow. I spent a year in Florida a long time ago and hated it.
Frost concludes his poem,
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
I mention the ending because to me Frost is unable to break free. I don’t think that he was contemplating suicide or that it was a larger metaphor in his life where perhaps he was considering a major change at the time.
No, I think that Frost could not stop for too long, to smell the flowers, or in this case to watch the snow fall. You would think that he wrote the poem in 2019 not 1922 and was caught up with social media, friends and a vibrant social calendar. No he just could not spend too much time in the woods that evening. If he had stopped for a long time he would have been behind schedule.
But you can. Get yourself a cushion to sit on; I have a sportsman’s cushion. I also take with me a small blanket that is plastic on one side and cloth on the other that I can place my cushion on, so that when I sit down on it my pant legs are off of the snow.
Determine the place you want to go. Look for an evening that is not going to be too cold. Most importantly choose one without wind. Snow should not a problem. And layer up. Enjoy the quiet. There is a bonus in the fact that there are no bugs.
One more thing. When I talk about Frost not willing to break free and spend more time in the woods on a snowy evening understand that I left behind global management over two decades ago and never looked back.