Frozen Waterfalls

Winter in the Forest is so bare and quiet. The naked trees expose every hill and valley of the landspcape. The shadows of trees pattern the white untouched snow. Last fall's mushrooms are wearing snow caps. The sound of water flowing in the stream under the thick ice is suddenly a deep echo. Every step is another crunch of snow and ice compacting under-foot. Massive trees bear snow drifts and protect pockets underneath them from snow fall. It's cold.

I walk these paths with my dog, Sugaree. She was born in Israel and is a Canaan Dog mix breed. I am bundled up with my heavy coat, boots, warm socks, gloves and other layers to keep me warm. She just just around in the snow as happy as could be, her paws don't even seem to get cold because she is constantly moving. She only stops to bury her nose in the snow searching for some hibernating woodland creature. She usually leaves them alone. . .

Then we arrive to the frozen waterfalls. The very name of water fall implies motion. The essence of a waterfall is motion, and yet it is seemingly stuck in place. Is it really stuck in place? Motion is still captured in the still frame of the frozen waterfall, but water is flowing underneath the ice still and water travels over top of the ice as well to constantly change the face and reclaim its essence of motion. The slight trickle or the roaring crash of the waterfall is replaced by a low echo sound of water flowing under ice.

All of this white and the forest still bears the green of the hardy mosses and lichen. Seeing their shades of green are a reminder of the coming spring and the robustness of the forests' creatures to endure a snow blanket and the freezing temperatures. The lichen, a symbiosis of fungus, algae and other microorganisms are so adept to survival in harsh places that it spurs one to wonder if they could endure off planet conditions. Lichen is one of the first examples of cooperation in an ecosystem as opposed to the dominant competition and survival perspective. These simple plants add splashes of color on the blinding white snowscape.

As I have walked for about 40 minutes now, my body is warming up and my hands are not as cold. It is still cold though. There are some footprints leading up the creek, some brave soul walked up the frozen stream. I took a few steps until a got to a deeper bend in the stream and heard the low rumble of strained ice. I declined to follow in those footsteps and made my way back to the terrestrial trail and up a hill. Then an open meadow opens up before me. I start into the deep snow, it is slower going and has a similar sensation to walking through shallow water or sand. Sugaree is ready to head back to the car now, and she heads there with or without me, so I follow through her path in the snow.

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