Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A solitary, winter walk

It's interesting how walks pan out on cold, winter evenings. The temperature is 10C and a cold wind is blowing and within minutes of walking my body is as cold and stiff as a piece of frozen chicken. The wind wraps itself around my body and the cold seeps in through the four layers of clothing that I have on. But as I walk briskly, my circulation gets going and warms up my body and gently thaws me out. I then reach a stage when the warmth from within reaches the cold from without and pretty soon the cold is banished as my body surrounds itself with the warmth it has itself produced.

It always amazes me how quickly night falls in winter. When I start my walk the sky is a light blue and the moon has just risen and the white clouds are still streaked with pink, but within moments the light fades and the sky settles into an inky blueness in which the moon gleams like a round, beaming pearl. The only indication of the day departed is the halo of light which still shines in the west, a gentle, lingering farewell from the sun.

My nose catches whiffs of wood smoke that waft out from the chimneys. Bouquets of fragrances that indicate which wood is being burnt. Some sharply aromatic, some pungent and smoky but all delicious. I picture flames leaping up through the wood as it slowly crumbles into ash. And I cannot help wondering how even during the last leg of its journey from soil to ash the tree still gives us warmth and light. Can I be as selfless, I wonder, can I be as giving?