Roe Chiacchio: Fifty Shades of White

Posted:  Monday, December 25, 2017 - 2:45pm

During winter in Maine, we are surrounded by leafless trees, frozen lawns and barren land. But within a day, Mother Nature will suddenly sweep in to beautify the terrain.

After her snow storms, look out and see a virgin landscape of snow where there was once a lawn. A sculptured scenery unmarked and untouched by humans or animals. With admiration, scan the carpet of snow containing cut diamonds that sparkle and glitter as the sun sweeps across the land. Night time brings a distinct illumination. The moonlight enhances the snow's brightness and darkness escapes the world.

I am captured by winter’s beauty. The snow is of the purest white. I feel a deep longing to be in her world and snow shoe endlessly in the fields and forest behind my house.

The snow is soft and giving with each step I take in my snowshoes. I sink eight to twelve inches into the snow which makes walking a chore and every now and then I sink in deeper. Being stuck in snow is like having fun at a playground. I’m not worry about getting bruised or bumped or hurt because the snow cushions me. Lodged in snow up to my thighs, I dig, roll around, climb out and then lie on back and watch the clouds drift by, happy to be in this quandary.

The snow is unblemished, pure and shadowy and her whiteness glows from within the shaded woods. As I wander, tones of natural day light produce images along the ground creating fifty shades of white. Alluring, hypnotizing and enchanting, I am captured, and she demands my attention to notice her beauty. Look to the left, look to the right, look up and look behind you she whispers as displays of ethereal images from the trees, shrubs and rocks surround me.

Within the forest, the varying colors of white give contour and depth to the land. As the sun moves across the sky and peeks into the woods, shadows change in shape, size and hue. The forest floor comes alive with dancing figures along my path.

I peacefully meander, listening to the sounds of snow covered trees and shrubs cracking and snapping, trying to dismiss the weight of the snowfall on top of them. Branches are hanging low to the ground creating tunnels for me to travel through in a crouched positon. The forest behind my house contains eastern hemlock trees, a favorite food of the animals living here. Having the branches close to the ground makes it easier for deer, moose, porcupine, mice and fellow friends to dine in deep snow. This is nature taking care of nature.

I walked alongside the frozen stream, around the debris of fallen trees and broken branches knowing the deer will use this trail later in the night. I have given them a path to travel on, thereby saving their energy so that they don’t have to do the exhausting work of breaking trail in deep snow.

Snow shoeing is a free style sport. I can go anywhere, any time of day and night. I can travel up a hill, down a ravine, around a fallen tree or under a fence. The land before me tempts me to explore her without barriers.
The trails don’t have to be groomed. What I see before me is where I can roam. I am free to create my personal destination.

Henry Thoreau believed that there is a benefit of walking. "Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow".

Snow shoeing, like walking has a liberating effect for my mind. When I am outdoors I am living in the moment. This allows me the time to distance myself from the stressors of life. I am creating a gap, interval or space away from my world of family, work and commitments to feel the spirit within me. And in this space, of being between both worlds, I find the truth of my life.

When we are in the environment of nature, our brain shifts it’s focus towards being fully engage and present in our life. The secret is getting into the space that is between both worlds and learning to listen.

Next time it snows, take a walk into the woods and there you will find fifty shades of white. 

Roe Chiacchio, RN, CPT, CDP lives in Lincolnville.