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Photo by Pamela Noel

Community Green: Celebrating The Winter Night

By Pamela Noel

Special to Plumas News


I always wanted to live in a place where the lights went out—where I could feel my position as part of nature—not trying to control what cannot be controlled.  After moving to the Sierras, I looked forward to the times of heavy snow that forced us to stop and look and feel the winter upon us.


And tonight that happened again…that little reminder of our true place in the grand scheme of things.  I see 12 inches of snow on my fence posts.  The shrubbery is bent over under the weight of today’s storm.  The sky shimmers a dark silver, collecting and reflecting light from the universe, that is then shared with my personal view of the evening.


Looking outside seems “other worldly,” like something additional and amazing could happen in the darkly snowy scene.  I give up trying to catalog it all…and instead blur the sharpness of my vision to simply let it all in…feeling the mystery of night and snow and mountains and trees.  Looking out into this darkened wintry snowy scene at first, catches me unawares…and that is where the magic lies…in the surprise of such unscripted beauty, one of the purest expressions of nature.


Launching my mind into this spectacle outside my window, I roll into its beauty, becoming lost in this moment of joyful abandon.  Allowing my eyes, ears, and all my other senses their full expression, I am open to the magnificence, the snow glow so luminous and soft. I continue to wrap myself in it, imagining myself so large as to capture all of it.


A snowy winter night is quiet like no other quiet I have experienced, seeming to absorb any ambient sound, putting it out of earshot, covering it and keeping it buried from my awareness.  Only occasionally, I hear a thump of an icy build-up falling from a branch onto the deck, or the whoosh as the metal roof finally lets loose, sending the pile down to bury whatever lies below.


When the power went out tonight, my partner and I just sat, waiting to see what would happen next.  At first, it seemed very very dark.  Should I light a candle?  Locate the flashlight?  No, we just continue to sit…to experience what becomes visible.  As a result, a lot came into view.  As our eyes adjusted, an amazing amount of that snow-reflected light became available through the windows.  The fire in the wood stove added it’s orange glow. We were warm, safe…and our typical distractions receded into the darkness.


One  of the reasons I live in the mountains is because of what we don’t have.  The things we don’t have—horrendous traffic,  lines of people standing for hours for the next new “thing”, and having everything available 24/7.  Here, there is still the feeling of making do at times, using what we have to get the job done,  having a friend drop by to have a cup of tea, made from the water heated on the wood stove, and relaxing when the lights go out.  When this happens,  I can just allow the feeling that rests in a silent sigh of serenity and contentment of living here.



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