Deep Winter

by - February 23, 2015

It is deep winter, or as deep as it gets in the Piedmont, and yesterday we got a strange yet wonderful lag in the cold after a week of no school. We drove off to a location not far out of town, a future park development site Joe wanted to visit. We arrived and walked down an old two-lane road, half grown over with the encroaching forest floor and recently blanketed in ice, giving way to sun and slush.

The road eventually dove under the water, sleepily submerged under Falls Lake, reminding us of the temporal nature of man-made utility. Where the water met the pavement was a thin, melting layer of ice. The ground was peppered in old shotgun shells and skeet disks, and boxes were strewn about either as targets or evidence of redneck libations.

Satisfied by the echoing thuds sticks and rocks made as they bounced across the ice, we turned down a trail to hike out to the point, and the forest began to close in around us. As we sloshed through, we noticed an increasing amount of rusty cans, tires and large cylinders and again puzzled at the passage of time. On our return back, we even found what looked to be the foundation of an old cabin and a chimney fallen down in the center. There was a hollowed out tree, fallen trees teeming with moss and fungal growth and massive oaks that had cast off old heavy branches but were still charting out new territory in the heights of the canopy.

When we finally reached the point, we ate our snack and found an old turtle shell, which fastened to a stick became the return hike totem of sorts. After sticking to the path, I pointed up at a ridge and told the boys to go explore, see what was just over the hill. Their inner-woodsmen unleashed, they took off and soon discovered a small ice-beach.

After a week of stagnation, trapped inside our walls waiting out the ice, we had opened the door and seen that nothing is stagnant --  not nature, not time, and certainly not decay. As we walked back to the car, Joe and I joked about we old people being tortoises and the boys being hares as we carried the turtle shell totem and the boys wove in and out of our path stopping to moan over wet socks and tired legs and then bolting ahead determined to beat us to the end.

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