It was a chilly December morning, very early and it was still dark. The sky was lead hued and dull. I made my way into the woods behind my old home place to a favorite spot. Settling into the dried leaves between the roots of an immense beech tree, I rested my back against its smooth bole. The sky brightened into the color of skim milk smoke. The air was still; no noises surrounding me in the predawn light. From the tangles, small ticks and fluttering of wings from subtle hued chick-a-dees sounded as they searched for seeds. Several dun colored tufted titmice joined the morning foray.
There were bright splotches of vivid green ferns, moss, and ground pine scattered about. Patches of snow still dotted the brown leaf covered forest floor like spots on a young fawn. The sounds of soft scurrying under the leaves said a filed mouse was looking for its breakfast. It popped out near my feet, scampered across the leaves and then disappeared a few hops away.
In the small valley behind me gurgled a meandering stream hurrying to the warmer climes of the ocean before the grip of frigid weather could freeze it beneath a coat of icy armor. It was a special time of relaxation for me; my breath rising in wispy clouds to dissipate into the chilled morning air. Quietly waiting for the sun to rise and to see the shafts of light slide through the bare branches and dance on the leaf littered floor.
Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat----tat. I was jerked from my reverie by the loud staccato pounding of a downy woodpecker. Its black and white body was topped by a white head and a red cap. The knocking on a hollow branch above my head echoed like gunshots as it searched for grubs and insects.
Pale wan spears of light shot through the melancholy billows of gray: the sun had risen.
It was time to leave. Little else would change. Perhaps some more of the snow would melt or a chipmunk would poke its head out, lured by the sunlight and warmer temperature.
I walked back to my car, my footsteps lighter, my head clear, and my spirits lifted.