I look around in a circle for a moment, admiring browning grass and leafless trees. I walk around a bit and choose a good spot for sitting on the ground – for contemplating the day. The sun is getting higher, and warmer, though it feels like it is losing a battle to warm the day. Ahead of me, stretching up and over my field of vision, is a tree, a little old, a little twisty – gnarled, even – a little forlorn. The sun’s path is taking it up along the line of its trunk, and from my vantage, it flirts with the trunk like a road it doesn’t quite want to follow. It is like that bright globe is climbing the tree, as I have before, to look down upon the world and watch for a time.
The wind can’t hit me with its full, chill force here, and I can enjoy the sun’s small gift. I am the only thing around that is soaking it up today. This week turned cold, and while everything around is dying or sleeping, I am softly awake, letting the skyfire kindle warmth on my skin. My breath is now slowed, measured, relaxed. I can look straight upwards, to heaven, space, dreams and possibilities, a deep blue of timeless existence. I move with the sun, arcing slightly, climbing until I will fall again. Each day, my path is just a little different, though I always try to bring light and life to everything I see.
The orb is obscured for a moment by a thick branch high up on the trunk, one that fell suddenly to the earth a little while ago, grabbed by a tempestuous gust of wind, perhaps with the aid of water or ice to bring heavy burden to the sylvan arm, and break it off. The severed limb has already become a part of the forest floor, to return to that whence it was sprung. My eyes shielded from the fire for a moment, I can see into the dark places around, in the shades and shadows, under root and bush. Nothing is hidden from me, for this moment. Light and dark stand as opposites, yet both are open to me.
Breathing deep, the chill finds its way into my lungs, and clears my head. I close my eyes and listen, feel, exist.
Something tickles my pupils, hidden as they are. My eyelids open just in time to see the sun emerging from behind that stub of a severed branch, lighting and igniting the very ragged end as one would a cigarette. My eyes see nothing for a moment but blinding white, with the outline of the splintered wood etched on the edge. I breath in slow and let it fill me up. I exhale, and my breath is like light smoke, catching the breeze and dancing away for the space of a blink before it is lost in the wind above. The sun leaves its enkindled stick smoldering and continues its climb on into the blue. I follow it up, out into Everything, from my seat upon the ground. Though cold Earth is below me, and cool air all around, I have warmth inside.
Slowly, I bring myself back down. For today, at least, I feel I should not fly so high as to burn my wing.
I rise, slow but straight. My steps to the edge of the windbreak are in time with the retarded beating of my blood. I reach the space where evergreen branches give way to wide, open pasture. The wind attacks my face, pushing at my lips to open and accept it. I breath deep now, mouth agape, and the ice on the wind brings the fire of cold into my throat and lungs. The azure fire within me burns, as icy as I am warm. My eyes close and I exhale the innocuous wisps of conquered wind back out to their creator. I show Aeolus that even he cannot have me. I accept all in Nature, and give it back changed, reduced but ready to be reabsorbed into the great Cycle.
To plop back down onto my overstuffed couch feels too easy. I turn on the screen in front of me and see the lowest number of the year next to the word “air temperature.” Its smaller brother sits next to “wind chill.” Inside my chest are the smoldering embers of that air, and I think to myself that as cold as it is today, I have never tasted air so warming….
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