imagine, if you will, a narrow, twisting canyon road, barely two lanes wide. there may be bike lanes along the sides, but if there are, they are now covered with snow and lacy edges of ice. tall pines are visible on the slopes of either side, and the edges of the road are full of all sorts of growth that is now covered with inches to feet of thick white snow.
the road climbs gradually, at times a bit more steeply, and the snow-laden trees bend in toward the asphalt and the sky looks so very far away, the blue marred only by faint ribbons of white. it is a winter wonderland, the trees so heavy with snow that the image you see is like a black and white photo that has been tinted so that the black is a deep green; you see green and white, green and white, everywhere you turn.
you park, you strap on your snowshoes, and you head up a trail. you are far from the first up this trail: it is already snow-packed and wide enough for three to walk abreast. you walk on the edges of the trail, your snowshoes eager to do their job on the powdery surfaces. your feet are warm, your body begins to heat up with the exertion of the upward-climbing trail, and your cheeks burn lightly with the cold.
a first cabin peeks from between the trees on your left, and soon you have passed it, and also the next. they hunker down into their snow-covered foundations, and hold their walls tight to themselves as the snow sits on their railings and roofs. more cabins appear as you move along, and they disappear behind you as you climb, and climb. the trail ascends continually, but kindly, your heart just keeping a steady, working beat that sends small beads of sweat across your forehead and back. you remove your hat, and feel the pureness of the crisp air caressing your entire head.
a perfect cabin suddenly appears on your left: the stones of its foundation lovingly placed, the hewn boards laid in perfect pattern, its very design one of both beauty and function. snow sits heavily on the roof and gables, swooping down in graceful cornices, hanging over narrow sills. you pause to gaze upon this fairytale abode, and know deep in your soul that whoever built this home did so with great care and love.
when you move on, you notice again how tall and strong the trees that surround you are, their hundreds of branches and millions of needles holding armloads of snow, occasionally releasing small bundles that shower down upon you. the wind sends a small breeze across the treetops at a bend in the trail, and millions of particles of snow are thrown into the air thirty feet above your head and directly between you and the sun: they sparkle and glitter and dance in the air until they disappear from sight, becoming absorbed into new snow structures.
it is quiet save for the squeak of the snow beneath your shoes and the sound of your own breathing.
tens of thousands of trees stand resolutely, arms full of snow, feet implacably placed beneath the white ground. when the wind moves through their tops they whisper words of strength and hope, and certainty about the beauty of the future.
you sit for a while, allowing yourself to be absorbed into the environment, soaking in the richness of the scene spread before and around you. you inhale, and exhale. your breath floats in front of you for mere seconds, and you gratefully turn your face to the sun.
it is cold, the air is pure, the silence is deeper than the canyon is old, and the feeling that swirls around and through you in none other than that of absolute peace.