Tuesday morning began with a touch of magic.
A thick veil of fog enshrouded the Geneva Lake area, and as Andy and I rose and drove to one of our favorite local coffee shops, I found myself delighted by the shifting light.
We are well into December here, and it seems customary almost that I’m writing yet another wintry blog after months of near silence. What can I say? There’s simply something about the shifting seasons and the calm of winter that finally awakens my urge to produce prose.
I’ve certainly said it before, but that won’t stop me from repeating: I simply adore this season here in Lake Geneva, WI.
It is a gift of presence and slower pacing in our small tourist town.
Piers are removed, left to rest upon the shores of the lake, like large slumbering giants. The elements close in, phasing us from fog and mist to frost and rime ice, snow and blustering wind. (As I write this, the wind howls outside my window in wild gusts as an uncharacteristic warm front makes it’s way across the Midwest, soon to be replaced by frigid air.)
There is a sense of stillness.
Haunting beauty, and a much deserved rest sets in, as the wilderness that still dapples the borders of these small Wisconsin towns hunkers down for colder weather.
This area, stripped of our modern conveniences, is still raw underneath. How long would it take, do you think, before wolves and coyotes howled around us at night, and the chill of a blizzard drove us to cower, fireside, if our way of life were to change?
These lands still whisper of times long gone. Times when the people here lived in tandem with the Earth, and the animals around us were more populous than our small numbers.
Stand next to a towering pine – listen to her wisdom. She’ll share with you stories from the past. All it takes is a moment of pause beyond a passing glance.
For those of you that know me well, it’s no surprise that 2020 and 2021 have caused the great longing I have to own land of my own to swell beyond containment. I yearn to foster a space where I can help nurture the growth of trees new and old. To live in peace with the rhythm of the seasons, to grow, to harvest, and to have my hands happily in the dirt, my feet bare, and my eyes on the clear cool night sky – filled with glimmering stars.
I’m eternally grateful for the many pockets of preserved lands around this beautiful lake. And while I spend a lot of time at Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy in Williams Bay (my dear friend, James Killian, and I just finished our book on the Conservancy, however, we still await final copies, as it is held up in the binding process, due to the supply and demand situation this year), Tuesday, I found myself in the fields of Fontana. There is a beautiful savanna restoration project within Duck Pond Recreational Area, and the light kissed the fog there with such gentleness, I couldn’t help but wander amidst the golden trails.
This time of year, I find myself finally picking up my camera for my own purposes. As a means by which to explore the world again, anew.
Depth in the details. Delight in all things untouched, unplanned, unposed. Lovely, unfurled, unexpected.
Just as nature thought I ought to find them.
There is such delight in this. This wandering, this freedom – it brings me back to life each winter, just as everything else is quieting around me. In that stillness, I can finally hear.
I stay, soaking in the whispers of water droplets on the wind. Long past red fingers and chilled hands.
There is no time here.
Just a feeling.
So subtle, so nuanced. It is home, like breath itself.
Then slowly, the magic says farewell.
“I am not gone, it whispers. I am ever-present. But our time here is closing. The day beckons, and you shall linger no more…”
Knowingly, I listen.
Watching the last few pockets of fog tremble down the hill, I climb into my Subie, in search of one last mystery for the morning…
There, just around the bend, I find Winter. He is waiting.
It is not yet his time, but it will come.
Six more days, and it will come.