There’s nothing like being the first person on the mountain after a fresh snow. This past Friday Annie and I were able to make our own path through the mountain pass. We were free to create a new beginning in the pure light of untouched snow. The snow banks sparkled like diamonds casting off mini rainbows flashing in the sunlight. We were filled with joy out on a playful adventure. Nothing can compare to that freedom and the complete peace it brings to my soul. In those brief moments I am filled to overflowing with gratitude and awe for the beauty that surrounds me.
We made the entire hike without a single other being crossing our path or tramping the fresh fallen snow before us. We were absolutely free to be in our own world of mystery and wonder. We took our time, Annie bounding up and down the mountain while I stopped every few moments to take another photo on my cell phone. Annie would put her paws in front of her and snow plow down the bank chasing after the pine cone she expected me to throw without ceasing. She would wait patiently for me to put my phone back in my coat pocket before throwing the pine cone again as far as I could.
The branches overhead were heavy with the weight of the snow. They bent gracefully toward the path, leaning in, making me feel safe and protected. I was hidden beneath the cover of white. The moisture made me more aware than usual of the smell of pine sap, as it emanated from the Ponderosa Pines and other coniferous trees nearby. The storm had passed leaving the sky a deep blue that somehow appeared cleansed of all impurities.
The path, although completely obscured by snow, was obvious to follow. Without trudging along in the tracks of others it was easier to make progress than it had previously been. I had struggled in the days proceeding, as the path had become uneven terrain filled with mud and ice. It was a trail of footprints frozen in time from the mass of hikers that made the pass in the warmest part of the day. The path was more of a mud bog during those hours which I try to avoid.
It became apparent to me how like life this trail is. When we are all following the same path, not diverting, not making our own way, we are bogged down, slipping on the mistakes of others who proceeded us. Twisting our ankles on yesterday’s choices and those not of our own making. When the snow had wiped away all trace, all history of prior choices and mistakes I was free to make my own path. I was free to stand in awe and gratitude for the beauty of nature. I could see in living color and smell the vivid scent that surrounded me. The silence was deafening and comforting. I felt nurtured and embraced by the very same trees I would pass by everyday without particular notice.
All of this was given to me because the trail had been washed clean of any trace of human interference. It was pure, unfettered nature in all her glory and I was in gratitude to be given the smallest glimpse into her majesty. A small reminder of how brilliant this land had been before humans started entering in mass numbers and stopped promising to leave no trace- no trash, no mark of ownership, no ego of accomplishment to mark the path.
How brilliant could my life be if I made the choice to make my own path and allowed myself the space needed to make my own choices and mistakes. What if I had no need of ego to leave a trace behind; to mark that I had existed. What if I chose a desire to live well, to be joyful and to show awe and gratitude for the forces of nature and the perfection of what is instead. I would be free to choose and would know that I am safe, protected and even nurtured by my surroundings. That I am supported and afforded the grace of fresh snow to cover all my mistakes; that I may begin again without shame, guilt or judgment. I believe I was given the gift of fresh snow, so that I could change my awareness, my perception and my choices. And I intend to do so- beginning now!