THE WOODS ARE LOVELY, DARK & DEEP

Ottawa, Ontario 

Escaping the commercial driven Boxing Day some friends and I decided to seclude ourselves from the lure of the malls and spend the day hiking. The Gatineau Parks are a nearby haven of natural forest, marked only by the footsteps of like-hearted ones in search of rejuvenation from the quietness that the winter forest has to offer. 

Once I got past the numbness of my extremities, the awesomeness of the winter forest came alive. In the hushed snowfall the path beneath the canopy of spruce trees where we walked was silent apart from the plodding of our own footsteps and soft exhales of tired breath. 

My friend stopped us all and asked, “ When was the last time you really heard silence”.  We stilled ourselves and began to listen until someone abruptly ended the silence in an effort to get a laugh. Nonetheless, I thought it was a good question. 

When was the last time you truly heard silence?

No computer humming, calming music, background noise or the sound of the furnace, but complete and utter silence. 

I love the summer; the ability to walk anywhere barefoot has me convinced that summer is the best season. 

I must however admit that there is something particularly magical about the stillness of a snowy winter day. There is rarely the sound of birds chirping, or animals scurrying through leaves and up branches. The snow muffles distant sounds and if you stop alone in secluded woods there is an aura of stillness that some how soothes the soul. It stills the mind of all the busy meandering and daydreaming thoughts that are constantly running about. 

I remember once reading that in the calmness of winter there is a privacy that no other season gives us. It has made me grateful for the snow, for only in the winter, the writer said, could you have truly quiet stretches to savour belonging to yourself. 

“A vast silence reigned over the land. The land itself was desolation, lifeless, without movement, so lone and cold that the spirit of it was not even that of sadness… it was the Wild, the savage, frozen-hearted Northland Wild”
— Jack London, White Fang