I stepped around the foliar and branching carnage which blocked my path, lain before me like so many soldiers on so many battlefields that had come before. Carefully navigating around this obstacle of snow and tree, I was at times uncertain whether I could pass beyond its reach or instead would be introduced to the ground on my way to the bottom of the hill. Eventually, with all thought now stifled by the snow's beckoning call, I made my way around and continued toward the lake.
The snow hushed the world in its grasp of silence. It drowned the voices of life with its quiet, its overwhelming quiet, invading my thoughts and engulfing my senses with a muted void.
I danced into it, a parade of one, a silent rush of Earth's frozen confetti falling soundlessly around me, on me, at my feet. Its grasp on me was tightening, its wintry insistence slowly invading every part of my being. Had I not dressed invincibly? Or was the snow gaining strength against my armor?
This is now our world. There is no protection from us in this place.
Had I inadvertanly voiced my concern to them? More likely, was this interaction becoming personal, my own thoughts no longer my own?
We have much to show you. The path is laid out. Delay not in your journey. Come. Be with us.
I followed the whisper, the calling which reached into my very soul, the voice which made no sound, the call which I heard with my being, my heart, my mind, yet which my ears longed to hear.
The darkness had mindfully given way to the morning light. But this was not the world I remembered. All color replaced by frosty hues, this landscape so familiar to me was now a tundra, so alien, so unlike the memories of yesterday.
I continued on, the snow around my feet now several inches high, threatening to consume me from below, reaching upward with each step as if to capture me.
What have you done to the world? I pondered. Awash in shades of white and gray, I felt transported to another place, perhaps even another time.
This world we make from our essence. For this moment and in this place, it is our creation, our realm. None can stand against us.
I then realized I had reached the park around the lake. Where was this place? Its beauty was matched only by the hostility of the environment: cold; deafening silence; snow assaulting every place I looked, falling with such vehemence and quietness in this expanse of chill. It overwhelmed me.
Why was I not mindful of my journey here? How is it that I could be standing in this place without recollecting the passage of time and space? Whence comes this alien landscape I now behold? All the world is succumbing to the snow.
Come forth. We crafted this world from water and cold. Behold the naissance of our existence, the incarnation of our will, the manifestation of our dominion.
I continued forward, yet I remained aware that I could not will myself to stop. Was it the beauty that held me captive, unable to control my own destiny? Or was it something else?
I glanced behind me, seeking to comprehend my own wanderings. I could not remember arriving here, where I now stood, yet I could see, well beyond the bridge, where I had been just moments before. Or had it been longer?
I was nearer the lake now. Drawn to it by some force unseen, unheard and unchallenged, I continued on.
Where lies your strength over me? I demanded silently. What enchantment bewitches me thus, and how comes it then that I unwittingly bequeath my will to you?
Silence. I listened so intently that, were it possible, I would strain my ears to hear that which was not said. I beckoned to the snow with sheer force of thought, challenging it with the substance of my own determination.
Have you abandoned me? I wondered. Were I to be abandoned in such a place, to be held captive by such beauty, I could not — would not — wish to leave it.
My senses gorged on the surroundings, gluttonously seeking to consume all the sensory input available, voraciously striving to remain undeprived of all this scene could bestow.
I reached the edge of the lake, mysteriously realizing I could not trace my path to this spot. I paused where I had persisted so many times before, yet did not recognize this place in this time.
I stood motionless here, here where creeks and tributaries approached the lake and, in their last stand of defiance, joined together, as if their combined strength could enable them to resist their onward motion. That selfsame motion would carry them forth into an amalgam of their individual essences, a final bastion of gathered resistance before their aloneness is conquered by the lake.
Their voice, singular yet plural, came from all around me, traveled through me, and settled about me in omnipresent calm tempered by its own strength of presence. There was tranquility here. And yet there was the commotion of the snow, endlessly replacing nature's own landscape with one of its — their — own making. A stark wasteland of winter made complete only by the wonderland of its icy depths.
I was held firmly by unseen hands, unable to move of my own free will, held still by the cold and silent onslaught which threatened to replace existence as I stood watching.
We join you, and you us. We become you, and you us. Meditate upon this place no further. Your journey is not yet complete. We lead that you may follow, hence follow us now.
And I did.