Words & Photos by Ashley Herrin
But while the earth has slumbered, all the air has been alive with feathery flakes descending, as if some northern Ceres reigned, showering her silvery grain over all the fields.
- Henry David Thoreau
We awaken to a still winter morning. A fresh carpet of snow arrived with the winds from the northeast as inches of perfectly crafted flakes dust the Vermont landscape. In a matter of hours, the once gray and muted green hills and farmlands are transformed into a winter wonderland. A simple stroke of the paintbrush dipped in a crisp white and the land has been transformed.
In the morning, we shed our down blankets that wrapped us in the evening’s slumber. We pull the blinds and draw the shades. A light so bright spills into the windows, reflecting off of nature’s new coat.
It’s no hidden truth that winter keeps people inside waiting for the season to break; hunkered down by roaring fires, fresh pots of soup and the warmth of the indoors. But on this morning, the newly painted landscape called to us for further exploration. We dressed in our layers, pulled on our boots and mittens and headed into the sanctuary of the winter scene.
We headed out with no destination in mind, only wanting to explore the region and see it in this winter light. We aimlessly roamed and wandered on foot and by car. We travelled along winding roads void of other cars and people. We stretched our legs along trails surrounded by pines draped with fresh snow. Outside, the world seemed silent, as if no one was there to enjoy it but us. With the exception of the snow crunching below foot and the occasional twig cracking or dropping under the weight of the new snowfall, we were the only noisemakers in this Vermont wilderness.
It is important to remember that Winter, just like the seasons that come before it, is fleeting. The subzero temperatures that often grip the region are only a brief moment in the annual life cycle of New England. Knowing that the beauty in this new snowfall would disappear just as quickly as the leaves in autumn do, we felt obligated to embrace that beautiful morning.
There is a slumbering subterranean fire in nature which never goes out, and which no cold can chill. It finally melts the great snow, and in January or July is only buried under a thicker or thinner covering. In the coldest day it flows somewhere, and the snow melts around every tree.
- Henry David Thoreau