It was chilly here this morning in the forest. Here in Southern Oregon during the fall and winter the morning sun casts long shadows, letting the frost linger on the land.
This morning I snuggled in bed, the warmth of the quilt and my doggie lulling me into temporary laziness. It felt good to have the nippy air on my face while the warmth of the blankets wrapped me in a cocoon.
Finally,though, I braved the cold air.
Not my doggie. She snuggled further into pillows, her 12 pounds anchored solidly to the bed.
I smiled at her maneuver, laughed and got up.
I knew that the days were getting shorter and I did not want to miss the blue skies and sunlight. Daylight is precious when you know winter is near.
I hiked into the forest surrounding my home, collecting branches and twigs to start the wood stove.
Of course I could get firestarters from Wal-Mart . . . and I do use them in an emergency.
Of course I could stack up piles of kindling for easier grabbing in the morning. I do that too for the winter months when the forest is under snow or damp from weeks of rain.
It is just that I enjoy the wandering and gathering on mornings such as this.
I like finding and collecting armfuls of autumn’s fallen gifts. It connects me to women across the ages and cultures who have gathered wood to tend the home fires.
It is a simple act. It awakens my sleep webbed muscles and opens my eyes to the wonder of my surroundings.
I marvel at the maples and fir trees.
I feel blessed when a deer shares the path with me.
I bend to the forest floor to see the last wisps of a flower.
Soon the snow would cover the paths I hiked. Soon the maple trees would be bare and the fir trees dressed in snow.
I suppose I could have felt dread for the cold winter months to come, but all I felt this morning was gratitude.
I was alive.
My legs could walk and my eyes could see.
I was given the gift of a perfect morning.