I returned by the same path whence I had traveled to the shores of the lake, following my now obscured trail back to that snow-covered place where my journey commenced. Even now the snow fell heavily again, more heavily than before. I had erred when first I contemplated the snow’s waning grip on reality. It came in heaving waves of cold and frost, first heavy, then light, then heavy again. Each passing oscillation of the snow’s heavenly fall gestured yet again that it was indeed powerful, that its hold on time and space was inarguable, and each time it came stronger and harder. Had the snow not declared its time was limited? This newfound strength surely was not evidence of such.
Even now, my existence in this place measured in hours and the snow deep by inches, the transformation of the world was yet incomplete. The truth of this I felt in the core of my being. Time now marked in depth of snow, there was yet more to come. I felt confidence that this moment represented only the midpoint of Earth’s alteration.
My feet carried me forward as my eyes yearned to retrace my path. While I had traveled this way only a short time before, the footsteps of my previous journey hid below the fresh surface of the snow, shielded from my eyes by the purity of white falling so powerfully about me and upon me.
I stood briefly under the cover of a tree stripped of its leafy protection, borrowing momentarily from its branches what little cover they could provide. Its naked self was robed with inches of snow now, its many arms weighed heavily under the load, its creaking under the weight coinciding with every wind. It called out under the strain. I listened intently to its cries — or was it laughter and an expression of joy, a voice thanking the snow for its covering of the tree’s nakedness, an expression of gratitude for this blanket thrown upon the realm of sleeping life? Absent its own protecting foliage, perhaps the tree lamented its exposure and vulnerability and thanked the snow for even an icy embrace. The thought warmed me; that must be it.
I glanced back along the creek and forest toward the water’s winding way across the park, taking measure of my own travel. Was this the path upon which my footsteps had fallen before the gray dawn took hold of the planet? My intellect said it was so, yet my senses denied this truth in the absence of evidence: the marks of my feet in the snow were already gone, shrouded under the heavy covering forcefully thrown upon this place.
How many times had I been here? How many times had I walked these same paths? Decades measured my familiarity with the natural beauty that once encompassed the lake. Never had I seen it so completely transformed.
Are we so powerful to obscure from you the reality in which you exist? We make a new existence from which will spring your world once again, like the butterfly springs from the cocoon. This landscape you consider so alien now is the selfsame refuge you have enjoyed many times before.
I dared not respond. The snow procured from me time and energy now lost in the wintry maelstrom heavily cloaking all that is — that was. Drawn from home by a power yet revealed to me and answerable to a calling which could not yet be identified fully, I expended my childlike awe in the hours passed since I first stepped outside of the fire-warmed safety of home and hearth. I was not disappointed by these events. Curiosity sated and seasonal joy fulfilled, my mind was satisfied by the exploration of this frosty landscape, the place’s original memory within me changed forever by the splendor of this Valentine’s Day transformation. I yet did not clearly understand the snow’s intent. Nevertheless, I was enthralled with the experience.
My camera equally was filled with sights and sounds of the snow’s power. I and my digital counterpart were satiated by the drink we enjoyed from winter’s fountain, both caressed by icy hands and made to feel at peace with the loss of the world we knew so well. My invincible attire now was washed white with the heavy precipitation that shrouded life’s true colors. The hush that fell upon me and all about me loudly whispered that this cocoon was only temporary, that it must be enjoyed while the snow still had strength sufficient to maintain it.
Tarry not. Your quest nears completion. We still are incomplete in this place, our power not fully realized, yet our time continues to wane. Henceforth carry forward in our will lest you deny yourself that which we bring you.
I felt now that I approached in time and place that moment and event that this journey intended to produce for me. Failing to comprehend in its entirety what purpose with which the snow pressed me forward, I remained compelled to follow. I walked.