There is something very crisp and healing about a winter hike. Even here, in the land of very little snowfall the winter woods feel cleaner and peaceful. All the inhabitants of stream and leaf are sleeping deeply or gone away all together and everything from bud to burl is snugly folded for the resting season.
The palette is a simple: khaki, bone and taupe, so that every little snip of color shows up like a blinking sign in the even landscape. Its good to be outdoors and to feel pure solace, no chance of meeting other hikers on the trail, and hear only the hoot of your own voice or the echo of a raven's call in the distance.
Its time for little things to have a small moment to shine: the dark maroon purple of a wineberry leaf, the chartreuse carpet of moss under rusty oak leaves, the glint of mica in a trailside boulder. There were no bird's nests this hike but I always like to look for them once the leaves are down and all the occupants have flown off to other habitats.
Away from highways and crowds and busy activities you can finally hear the drip of water off the spruce tips and the scuffle of a squirrel over the next rise and the rattle of the dead beech leaves in the wind. Small beauties, little things...but good to remember. All these small things are there, under the momentous importance of our busy lives if only we will take the time to bend down and see them.