Almost Paradise

I almost didn't take my camera along, and boy, would I have regretted that!  It had snowed overnight - just a pretty little snow, a few inches. As the snow started to taper off around mid-morning, it began to get windy, and every gust of wind brought white avalanches of snow down off the trees.

It was one of my "freedom Fridays," so I didn't have anywhere else I had to be. My husband and I decided to go for a hike in our local gamelands, the Scotia Pine Barrens. As we were getting dressed to go out, conditions were what you might call challenging for photography. The wind whipped snow out of the trees and suddenly obscured the deck windows completely.

I decided not to take my camera; said as much to my husband. But on a whim, I tossed it into a daysack, along with an umbrella, at the very last minute. Am I glad I did!

As we approached the gameland, the snow ended, and we realized we were the first ones in. Not a car track or a footprint ahead of us. The gameland was ours, and ours alone!

The snow was the lovely damp, fluffy kind that clung to every branch and twig. It was pretty as a picture; prettier, in fact. We walked as children into Narnia, amazed at the beauties we encountered with every step we took.

Better yet, the winds were calm for the first part of our hike, and the blue sky came out. There is perhaps no more beautiful blue than the bluebird skies you get in winter after a good snowstorm. Between the lovely frilly whites and pure blue sky, you could almost hear the angels sing.

We marveled at how amazing it looked; how little it resembled the central Pennsylvania woods we know so well. You could have told us we were in Maine, or the great Northwestern woods, and I would have believed you. We walked out our own front door into a land of beautiful dreams.

In the latter part of our hike, the winds began to pick up, and I had to keep careful watch over my camera. Taking pictures was risky; in fact, it was almost an acrobatic endeavor at times.

I would stand taking a photo of the wintry path ahead, then see the snow falling from the trees, quickly grab my camera, stuff it in its camera bag, zip it shut, wrap my hands and arms protectively around the bag, and then crouch down, cradling it in my arms, as the falling snow pelted my back and head.

Dear readers, the camera was not hurt, thanks to all due vigilance. Heed this warning, though, my fellow winter photographers: take your camera along if you must, but be mindful of the falling snow!

Much later in the evening, as I was relaxing at home, the cat was tucked in under the covers with me on the bed as I read my book. I had the Christmas tree lights lit. (Yes, I still have both trees up.)

The nearly full moon came out between snow squalls and cast tree shadows on the snow beneath my window, and I thought how happy I was: Snow. Moon. Christmas. Cat. It seemed like a tiny slice of paradise to me.

The soundtrack: Mike Reno and Ann Wilson, Almost Paradise.

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