A Stroke of Luck

One more day.  Our time was up at the AirBnB in Ft. Myers but we had one too many days for our travel home.

“How about we splurge and stay right on the beach?”  I saw no point in leaving the beautiful weather any sooner than necessary. 

Rich feigned deafness.  He was bent over his tablet, intently searching, reading, expanding the map, searching again.  I knew it, my fate rested in his hands.

“Here, take a look at this,” he said, handing over his tablet.

The charming cottage appealed to me, but it was the location that clinched it.  The small peninsula on the Gulf Coast was dominated by Bald Point State Park.  It had miles of beach, wetlands for Rich’s birding, trails for hiking and options for cycling.  My eyes traced 5-mile long Alligator Point, already planning my bike ride.  The cottage was wedged into this outdoor haven, surrounded by park land.

“Let’s book it!”

Turning off the Interstate toward Florida’s Panhandle on smaller roads, we lost traffic with each passing mile, and my muscles gradually unclenched after the tight game of leapfrog with the endless stream of semis.  By the time we turned onto the peninsula we had the road to ourselves.  After passing elaborate beach houses floating above impossibly tall stilts, we pulled into the grassy lot to find a humble cottage nestled among the wild Florida greenery.

This was a true cabin, Florida style.  The floor was tiled in a colorful pattern, heat rose through metal grates in the floor, there was a hand-sewn quilt on the bed and the quaint, comfy furnishings invited lingering.  The well supplied kitchen and modern conveniences ensured a comfortable stay.  It didn’t take us long to unload and venture out to explore.

We both set out on our bikes, but in opposite directions.  Rich headed into the park to check out the beach and marsh trails for birding options.  I had Alligator Point in my sights, eager to explore.  The road meandered down the narrow peninsula, first giving me views of the Gulf, threading down the middle, then following the bay sideThis was an old-time beach community.  Small ground level houses mixed with newer stilted monstrosities.  A community center, waterworks and marina were among the few commercial properties.  It was impossible to hurry despite the lack of traffic.  My head swiveled to take in the ambiance and culture of this local culture.

It didn’t take me long to determine that this was a different Florida.  Having traveled significantly north, the temperature had dropped significantly, especially when combined with the chilly wind off the Gulf.  The highs were in the 50s not the 80s.  Being from Northern Minnesota it still felt balmy to us, but was not yet inviting to other tourists.  As a result, there were very few people around.  It was quiet.  For years we have tried to “think un” when we planned vacations.  This time we nailed it.

I woke early the next morning, intent on walking the beach at sunrise.  Noting the 38-degree temp I donned my winter jacket, hat and mittens and covered the short distance to the sand that stretched as far as I could see.  Already the horizon was ablaze, the cloudless sky waking fiercely with the sun’s impending rays. The tide was well on its way out, leaving behind ripple patterns, tidal pools and sand islands that reflected the orange glow and blue hues of the water.  It wasn’t the barefoot saunter I might have envisioned, occasionally splashing through the retreating waves.  Instead, I headed downwind, braced myself against the chill and found my warmth in movement.  Perhaps all the better in its uniqueness.

Over a mile down the beach, the sun finally peeped above the horizon, a yellow orb that rose quickly.  And with it the beach glowed in its initial pastels.  Transformed.

Lingering over my breakfast in the cottage as the sun streamed in, I perused the park maps and settled on a hike.  The closest trail was the loop around Tucker and Little Tucker Lakes, and I liked the idea of seeing water along the way.  I must have been in a Minnesota mindset, picturing narrow paths lined with trees and easy views of the lakes.  But this was Florida.

I set off down a swath wide enough for a highway, looking more like a dirt road than a path.  It became grassier at times but never lost its width.  The tall pines that populated these woods seemed to emulate palm trees, with impossibly tall barren trunks that branched out into a rounded canopy of needles and huge pinecones.  I admired those tall soldiers in a huge battalion.  At their base swarms of palm bushes blanketed the ground, high enough to obscure my view of the lakes.  But the sun beat down, I shed several layers and pushed onward – never seeing another soul on the trail.

A final short bike ride included a visit to the main entrance of the park.  I pushed my bike out one of the beach entrances, where I could see the beach wrapping around the end of the peninsula.  Boardwalks traversed the marsh, and a long wooden pier extended into the water.  So much more to explore. Someday.

Sometimes the best experiences can’t be planned.  What started as a solution to a problem turned into an unexpected pleasure.  A peaceful coda on the end of a melodic symphony.  A chance to unwind, to engage with nature and retreat from the more populated world.  A stroke of luck.

Trapped!

The wind howled all night long, whipping around the 5+ inches of new snow dropped by the storm. I tossed and turned, hearing our windows rattle and the moan of the gale. What I didn’t hear was the crack of falling trees.

It wasn’t until I ventured out in the still-dark morning, backing out of our unplowed driveway and inching down our remote road that I noticed the downed power line and a shadowy hulk that loomed beyond my headlights. A tall pine tree claimed the road from edge to edge. My trip to the pool at the Y was scuttled. Our little strip of 4 houses have only one way out and it was blocked.

The power company was on it right away, severing the line and carting it away. But the tree remained. There was only one thing to do. Ditch the swimsuit for my snowshoes.

At 6-degrees with a fierce wind still raging, I had to dig for all my warm layers, find my gaiters, heat up some hand and toe warmers. The minutes fled as I wriggled into my stack of insulation and struggled to bend over far enough to lace my boots. Did I really want to do this?

As soon as I crossed the street and headed down the multipurpose mountain bike trails, I knew the answer was Yes. In the silence of the woods, the only sound was the wind in the trees and the creak of my left snowshoe. Surprisingly, someone had beaten me out there and I followed boot tracks down the narrow path. I mentally thanked COGGS for creating these twisty, curvy and playful trails with short bridges over deep gaps.

I lost the footprints about a mile into my trek when they disappeared down a steep embankment. Hmmm, really? Continuing on, I relished the unmarked snow even if it was more of a challenge to discern its route. My favorite bits were the hairpin curves, steeply banked for the cyclists and carving a luge-like chute still discernable through the drifts. The sun was high enough to lay shadows across the snow, and I admired the snow’s artwork on pine branches. It was a morning for taking in my surroundings, letting my whirring brain slow and being in the present.

My nose reminded me that it was exposed to this cold and wind, requiring periodic warmups from my bare hand. But my hand and toe warmers blazed, keeping my other most vulnerable body parts toasty. I trudged on, warming my core with the effort even while breathing in the crisp cold air. I was in no hurry to finish and let my footsteps lead me on down the trail.

Why did I think this was a good morning for swimming? Because it was cold and windy? Nature knew better. This outdoor fix beats chlorine any day. I didn’t mind being trapped one little bit.

Sunrise Cycling

With the onset of fall, the days seem to shorten at an alarming speed. At this northern latitude, by the fall equinox we tip the balance to more darkness than light each day. By now we are already down to just 9 1/2 hours with the sun above the horizon.

I mourn the dim mornings which push out my morning workout routine. On cycling days, I wait impatiently until I have just barely enough light to see in front of my bicycle – typically about a half hour before sunrise.

Absent the sun, there is a definite chill in the air. I layer on warm clothes, pull booties over my cycling shoes and don my Happy Hat under my helmet. Ski lobster gloves and a buff complete the ensemble. I shiver as I coast downhill, absent the heat-generating pedaling I need to stay warm. But soon that all fades into the background.

By the time I reach Superior Street, I get my first glimpse. The sky begins to widen, and color radiates above the trees. I can’t wait to get to the shore to see the full effect, and I’m richly rewarded by the time I reach London Road. The sun is still low enough to generate rich colors that bounce off the clouds, paint their undersides and send reflections across Lake Superior.

My favorite stretch is from the Lakewalk tunnel through the newly completed path through Brighton Beach. Despite the cold, I have to stop, straddle my bike and pull off one glove to take pictures. I am compelled to record this majesty.

But the real impact is more personal. I can’t help but be thankful for the beauty of Nature. The sense of wonder fills me with gratitude. How lucky I am to be out here, fit enough to be cycling, able to witness God’s handiwork, healthy enough to do this day after day, and to live in close proximity to Lake Superior’s many moods. A day that starts like this just has to be good.

No two mornings are the same. As I flick through my photos, the words that come to mind are Fire and Ice. The brilliant red-orange mornings are balanced by more subtle blues and purples turning the lake a cold steely gray.

When the sun finally makes its fiery entrance, the show moves quickly. It doesn’t take long before its radiance overpowers the scene. Dawn has arrived, colors fade and light begins to bathe the world.

The warmth of those powerful rays eases my way up the shore, reviving my fingers and toes, glowing on my face. I’m not sure how long I can keep up this fall routine. But for now, each day I make it out for sunrise cycling is a gift.

Sunrise, Sunset

Being a volunteer lighthouse keeper has its perks, particularly in the off-duty hours. Fortunately, no matter what month I am at Crisp Point Lighthouse, sunrise and sunset fall squarely within my free time. And I make sure I am at the ready to witness and photograph both. Highlights of each day.

Being keepers in September this year means a more sociable hour for sunrise. Scrambling out of the tent by 6:45am still nets me a front row seat to an inspiring light show. I start on the west side of the lighthouse, watching the oranges infiltrate the clouds and silhouette the tower.

Making my way past the lighthouse to the opposite side, I turn back to watch the sun crawl its way down the lighthouse, illuminating it with the glow of the low morning sun and reflect on the water.

Another morning delivers fiery red hues that mutate into pink cotton candy in the clouds overhead, just 13 minutes later. I never tire of this scene. It’s worth the brisk morning chill, the sleep still in my eyes and the fact that I haven’t had a chance to brush my teeth yet.

At the other end of the day, sunsets provide lingering entertainment that only starts with the sun dipping below the clouds.

The real show begins five minutes later when the sun drops below the horizon and shoots its brilliance into the clouds above, and intensifies with the accompaniment of crashing waves.

The variety is never ending. Some mornings and evenings are duds, scuttled by clouds blanketing the horizon. Others lack clouds completely, robbing the sun of targets to reflect its brilliant rays. But when the conditions are right, it’s downright magic and never the same twice. God’s majesty at work.

Photographing these scenes is half the fun, the game of seeing if I can replicate the image. In the past, I’d point my Canon Powershot SX40 camera at these displays, struggling to get the settings right, focus carefully, keep the camera still and hope for a good photo. Usually with mixed results. This time the camera stays in the car. Instead, I whip out my iPhone 12 Pro Max and hold it up for the shot. Click, I got it. Click, another for good measure. Click, catch the changing light. It certainly lowers my stress level, enhancing my appreciation for these solar events. And I have to say, that phone does a credible job and is always at the ready in my pocket. It’s my new standard to ensure I capture those sunrise, sunset moments.

Sharing the Light

The incessant wind drives tumbling waves onto the shore, cresting in white foaminess that contrasts the water’s deep blue. The morning chill on the beach is mitigated by the warm sun on my back. In my peripheral vision the tall tower stands guard over this sacred spot. Good morning, Lake Superior. Hello, Crisp Point Lighthouse. I’m back!

It’s been two years since I was last here. Our streak of 7 annual stints as lighthouse keepers was interrupted by Covid, like so many aspects of our lives. Even this year’s trip was a leap of faith as the virus continues to rage. But armed with vaccines, masking and distancing protocols in place, we felt willing to answer the call.

With the long slow drive down the infamous 18 miles of rough dirt road, the world began to recede. Shaded by towering pines and leaves rimmed with a touch of color, weaving through forest regrowth, I anxiously awaited that first sight of the lighthouse. The early morning calm and solitude of the site reminded me how much I love this place.

And yet it’s different this year. With extra duties imposed by Covid, we invited our friends Jon and Beth to join us. They were willing and eager participants, even knowing the rustic camping conditions – or perhaps even because of them. We erected our tents in unison before the onslaught of visitors – ours on the sand, theirs on the bed of their truck. A quick climb up the lighthouse clenched the sale as we gazed out over the miles of sand and rock beach stretching to the horizon in both directions, and took in the endless blue expanse of Lake Superior. Welcome, Jon and Beth, to our little slice of heaven.

The “Keeper’s Residence” below the lighthouse
View from the catwalk

The arrival of visitors plunged us into our duties, manning the Visitor Center, dispensing information about the lighthouse, selling souvenirs and cleaning jobs. Jon and Beth quickly became ambassadors, greeting folks, learning where they were from and how they found the lighthouse. It was a novel experience to be able to trade off and spell one another for bursts of freedom to walk the beach, climb the tower or read on a bench overlooking the beach. And the constant companionship was especially welcome in the evenings when we’d share dinner and linger by the bonfire. I knew the invitation had been a success when Jon and I manned the campstove cooking breakfast under an awning in the rain, and Jon leaned over to say, “Even this is fun!”

Jon restocking the bathrooms
Molly and Rich tending the shop
Ladies walking the beach
Dinner together
Campfire time

I admit it took a bit of adjusting. I had always equated our off-hours at the lighthouse with solitude. Morning walks and reflection, followed by time spent writing by the water. Evenings mesmerized by the flickering flames and glowing coals after Rich retreated to the tent. Reading while crunched down in the catwalk high above the lapping waves. Rare quite time I intentionally allowed myself in this retreat.

But after over a year of forced seclusion, having company was a treat. We ribbed Jon over his raging battle against the sand on the boardwalks and lighthouse steps. I relished Beth’s company on my morning beach walk, opening our hearts and sharing common woes. They taught me how to be an engaging host. We lent them our LED black light to find Yooperlites (which they did), and Rich gave them tips on seeing the Northern Lights (which failed to show). Laughter reigned. It felt so good.

I meant to consult Rich, but forged ahead without it. “Do you want to come again next year?” The answer came out in unison, “Yes!” It’s settled. We’ll be back next year, sharing the light with good company.

Adapting in the Ozarks

Life does not always go as planned.

May 2, we pulled out of the driveway, our car laden with bikes, a kayak, hiking shoes and visions of a secluded outdoor vacation in the Ozark Mountains. One year earlier to the day, we expected to board an airplane to Costa Rica to spend two glorious weeks in the rainforest and next to the beach. That didn’t happen, and the rest of the year didn’t pan out as expected either. But we were finally on our way.

We needed this vacation. Mentally, we were eager to escape the scene of anxiety and uncertainty brought on by Rich’s heart surgeries. Physically, we itched to shed our winter layers and don shorts in the warmth of sunshine. Socially, we expected to continue our Covid distancing, but with new scenery.

We targeted a remote cabin in the mountains, an AirBnB that allowed us to be self-sufficient and required only one motel stay en route. How our selection criteria have changed! But we soon discovered that we had fallen short on our research.

The drive into Jasper, Arkansas and ensuing trip to our cabin took us on twisty, windy, steep roads with no shoulders. As we plunged down and back up the mountainsides, it soon became clear that we would not be using our bicycles – if we wanted to live. Crossing the Buffalo River we could see it was gushing with the spring runoff. Fine for floating in groups, maybe, but not so safe for this novice kayaker. More redundant equipment. Oops.

The cabin proved to be perfect, as picturesque as the advertised photos, with views across the forested slopes. I quickly found my happy spot on the deck, where I could linger with my coffee in the morning, and eyed the fire ring for evening bonfires. Just as Covid has retrained us to live differently, the natural beauty that surrounded us would challenge us to rethink how we spent this vacation.

Cabin in the Ozarks
View from cabin deck over Ozark Mountains

Pouring over the extensive list of outdoor pursuits provided by our host, I targeted hikes that we could do together. Rich’s heart limited him to fairly flat routes – another oversight, having chosen to be in the mountains. But we found trails that wound through inspiring rock formations, took us to waterfalls and caves scoured out by rivers. Progress was unhurried, time to appreciate abundant, wildflowers bloomed and we could wear shorts. Occasionally I scampered up to higher elevations while Rich waited. We were even able to combine a birding and hiking outing.

Running out of trail options, we tried a new tack – a visit to Bull Shoals White River State Park. Every trip through the Ozarks takes far longer than highway speeds, but eventually we crossed the massive dam that holds back the White River to create Bull Shoals Lake. My thin hope of launching my kayak on the lake drained away with the words “boat launch closed” due to the high lake level. But we found plenty of short trails.

Rich spied a red headed woodpecker – a bird not often found Up North – and I sensed the perfect opportunity to divide and conquer. I hiked a longer, higher trail while he hunted his prey. I got my vistas and Rich found not only his bird, but its nest!

Weak wifi and abysmal cell reception in our cabin provided the incentive to pull away from the world. Away from responsibilities. Away from that To Do list that followed me there. I plowed through several books. I did some drawing for my community ed Beginning Drawing class. We grilled most nights and ate outside when the weather was favorable. And I got my flickering bonfire.

Did the week turn out as expected? Nope. But there was no denying we were on vacation. We had warm weather, slept in each morning, appreciated our leisure and spent quality time together. I returned refreshed, glad to be home, eager to hop on my bike. But grateful for the escape. Just as it should be.

Life in the Slow Lane

Covid has shut down large chunks of my social life. Confined me to writing at a table in our bunk room instead of the cozy environs of Amity Coffee. Diverted me to Zooming with my delivery-mates instead of bringing library books to shut-ins. Shackled me to the stove every afternoon at 5:00 instead of eating out now and then. Limited our table to two instead of the frequent dinner guests we love to invite to our home.

There have been positive sides too. Loads of time for writing, urging my book forward toward becoming a real manuscript. Seeing family more than ever, the only personal contact we’ve allowed ourselves indoors. Getting out to enjoy our State Parks. Pairing up with friends to run and walk and talk, talk, talk in the great outdoors. Pedaling my bike up and down the shore, waving to other cyclists and runners.

And then came “recovery.” I had minor surgery to repair a hernia the same week Rich had his latest heart procedure, sidelining us in tandem. Our Covid-suppressed household narrowed even further, as life quieted down to allow our bodies to heal. I finished several books, started knitting again and poured myself into my writing. In solitude. Indoors.

Although I bounced back quickly, I was still under strict restrictions: do not lift over 15 pounds, avoid straining my core, no cardio exercise for two weeks. Then came the empowering words, “Walk as often as you feel able.”

It started out as shuffling. I barely made it to Superior Street and back. I couldn’t keep up with Rich for a 1-mile walk, despite his impairment. But each day I was determined to try again. Four days in it actually felt like walking. Each day from there got better, my walks longer.

When I’m running or cycling, I’m aware of my surroundings but more focused on the activity. Pushing my pace, pedaling up hills, getting in a good workout. Walking has shifted me into slow motion. I have more time to appreciate nature as I amble along. I open my eyes and ears to the world around me. It’s as much about the escape as it is about moving my body.

I hear the soothing rush of Amity Creek for the whole distance of 7 Bridges Road, and pause on the bridges to watch it gushing with spring run-off.

Amity Creek above Smiley Falls
Amity Creek at The Deeps

My limitations encourage me to sidetrack and look more closely at the evidence of Spring’s struggle to arrive.

Spring buds

I have more time to appreciate the beauty of the sunrise, even if the sun is hiding.

White sunrise Brighton Beach

I catch a glimpse of nature’s artistry created by the prolific rainfall, and pause to admire.

Brighton Beach reflection

I take the time to play with “burst mode” on my phone in order to catch the waves at their highest.

Brighton Beach waves

I stop and sit on the rocks warmed by the sun, listening to the water gently lapping.

Resting at Brighton Beach

I catch the scenery I see almost daily, but in a new light.

Brighton Beach gazebo
Gazebo with shoreline

I’d be lying if I said I was content with my daily walks. I can’t wait for the day I can resume running and cycling. I’m told to “start slow with short timeframes.” So I’ll continue to supplement that with more walks, more observations. Still living life in the slow lane.

Molly at Brighton Beach

Exiting the Cold Snap

This morning’s temperature was 54 degrees warmer than it was a week ago. Already it feels like a distant memory to get up and check the thermometer, only to see it in the -20s, day after frigid day. To wait until mid-day for the air temp to reach a balmy -4 before setting out for a run. To forego my afternoon friend walks in favor of warmth by the fireplace. While Covid was socially confining, the cold compounded it.

As the mercury rose, so did the options for outdoor activities and Covid-save ways to meet up with family and friends. I readily embraced the opportunities.

First up was the Luminary Walk. This candle-lit stroll on the Lakewalk was part of the city’s Cold Front activities intended to celebrate winter. Ironically, it was postponed by the real cold front. Its new date fell on the first “warm” evening, a sure indication that I should get out and do it, and I convinced Rich to join me. Because we could.

Luminary Walk

To celebrate our son Erik’s birthday, we arranged to meet up with him and his wife, Katie, at Banning State Park. The river trail followed the ice covered stream and led us to rapidly flowing water gurgling in the icy openings. The sun shone down and I could feel its glow on my face, its warmth radiating down to my fingertips. There was no reason to hurry, it was enough just to be outside and moving, in the company of family, conversation flowing up and down the line. With a trunk load of firewood, we soon had a roaring campfire in the picnic grounds and warmed our innards with hot chocolate and s’mores. Lingering until the sun was low in the sky.

Rich Molly Erik Katie at Banning State Park
Erik Katie Rich hiking at Banning
Erik by Kettle River at Banning
Rich Molly Erik campfire at Banning

The icy snow on the ski trails was rejuvenated by a slow gentle snowfall and lured me back out on my skis for the first time in two weeks. It was a sweet reunion, gliding over fresh grooming, moving freely without the encumbrance of extra layers, not worrying about losing any fingers or toes. Remembering winter as it should be.

Lester ski trail
Shadow Molly XC trail

The grand finale of this recent surge in outdoor social life was being invited back to the “snow room.” Thanks to the ingenuity of our friends, we have enjoyed a number of pleasant happy hours and light suppers outdoors in front of a fireplace surrounded by snow walls. Protected from the wind and containing the heat of the fire, spacious enough to position our chairs with six feet between couples, we whiled away the hours enjoying the personal contact we took for granted a year ago.

Luikart's snow room
Molly Rich happy hour Luikart's snow room
Jon Beth Rich supper in Luikart's snow room

What a relief to relish the outdoors once again. To resume this strange new normal. To exit the cold snap.

A River Worthy of Snowshoes

The trick with snowshoes is to find a place to walk where you actually need them. When Erik and I first arrived at the Sucker River, we wondered if we were wearing unnecessary encumbrances.

The new fallen snow lay sparkling on the river’s ice bed, billowing over underlying formations and giving way to openings where the water flowed rapidly downstream. Overhead, tall pines framed the deep blue sky and the wilderness beckoned. But although we had the river to ourselves that day, we were hardly the first ones there. A well-beaten path headed upstream, trampled by snowshoes, boots, fat tire bikes and skis.

Erik and Finley on Sucker River

The good news was that the trail showed us where it was safe to walk. I had no qualms about skirting the watery openings, stopping to peer at the ice bubbles that formed around the edges. Dozens had done this before.

Sucker River open water
Sucker River icy bubbles

Even on the ice, I could hear the water below, burbling. The sounds accompanied our walk and I stopped frequently to admire nature’s artwork.

We clambered up waterfalls, and as they got progressively steeper I was thankful for the ice teeth on my snowshoes. They were just as useful on the way back down.

Before long, we lost our fellow hikers and the trail narrowed to one set of ski tracks and fat tire treads. When those petered out, only animal tracks crisscrossed the river. Dare we follow them? We made our way to the river’s edge to continue, happy to have our snowshoes.

Molly on Sucker River
Erik and Finley upstream on Sucker River

Sunlight warming our backs, pristine snow and deep silence rewarded us for venturing far upstream. When the river flattened out, the snow depth thinned. We hoped to reach 3 miles inland, but stopped a little short when the ice visibly changed and appeared to be slushy up ahead.

The return trip delivered new views on the banks, different snow and ice sculptures on the river, and deep breaths of crisp clean air. An escape through a corridor accessible by foot only in the winter. And worthy of snowshoes.

Snow art on Sucker River
Erik and Molly snowshoeing Sucker River

Nocturnal Wanderings

A brown Christmas seemed a certainty. As the days ticked by with narry a snowflake in the forecast, I resigned myself to the inevitable.

I admit to appreciating the clear dry surface of the Lakewalk for my morning runs. I felt grateful for the unseasonably balmy temps and shivered when they approached normal. I became accustomed to the ease of good driving conditions and not needing boots. I began to despair of losing my love of winter. And then it snowed.

It was entirely unexpected. We arrived home from a short trip to the Cities to find the trees blanked with snow. Our house lay nestled in the softness of white, our footsteps muffled by the residual snowfall since the walk had been shoveled. Outside our windows each branch bore a layer of fluffy frosting.

As darkness fell, I couldn’t resist the urge. I had to shuffle through the new snow, walk among the giant trees cloaked in white, traverse the silence surrounded by the muffled woods. Donning warm clothes, boots and headlamp I crossed the road and left civilization behind as I followed the footpaths.

My headlamp pierced the darkness, preceding my progress just fast enough. The rest was a hidden world of discovery.

Lester Amity trail at night

The moon shone softly through the trees, a heavenly presence on this wintry trek.

Moon and snow covered trees at Lester

The contributions of a nameless Christmas elf graced the evergreen branches.

Christmas decorations in the woods

I wasn’t gone for long. I didn’t travel very far. But it was enough to transport me into a renewed sense of well being. And a rekindling of the frosty spirit that comes with our coldest season.

Home beckoned as I approached. A warm sight after my nocturnal wanderings. Welcome winter.

Hoeg H'Arbor glowing in the night