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Shawn quipped this past week: ‘Punxsutawney Phil came out of his hole and said, “Winter is finally here!”’ And that sure seems right—here in New Hampshire, anyway—and so for the first time since last winter, we got our snowshoes out of the garage and onto our cabin-feverish feet.

There’s an area near our home that is privately owned and welcoming to folks on skis, snowshoes, and snow machines, so we made our way over to this wooded heaven for an afternoon this week.

I’d almost forgotten how much I enjoy doing this! Crunch crunch crunch through the quiet woods, the breath coming and going, no rigid plan, only to make each step follow the next one, and the next one, pausing to take in the smooth, light gray bark of a beech tree, or the fresh tracks of an ambitious squirrel, or the soft sighing of the wind moving through pine boughs overhead. In these woods, the world becomes a black and white photograph rendered in countless shades of stunning gray, setting in stark, beautiful contrast those same whispering evergreens and a few leftover yellowing leaves that still cling to and rattle against sagging limbs.

Snowshoeing brings to mind one of the most beautiful teachings from Thich Nhat Hanh:

‘We will walk. We will only walk. We will enjoy our walk without thinking of arriving anywhere.’

Though I am longing to return to the ‘before-times’ reality of touring in warmer climates during the winter months, I am also feeling so grateful to be able to connect so deeply to the unique, peaceful joy of the New England woods in winter—and only a few paces from my own backyard.