Winter Woods

I guess you can take the girl out of Canada 
but you simply can not take Canada out of the girl. 

That I re-learned today.
Apparently, God made me to absolutely come ALIVE in nature. 

I am MOVED in a deep, deep place in my heart and soul by His creation. 
Rolling hills. 
You name it.  

I love it. 

And I would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite nature scene to be dropped into for a week. Truly. I couldn't pick a fave. 

BUT, what I do know is that the forest hold a very special place in my heart. 

 If you want to snatch a glimpse of me as a little girl, in rural Northern Ontario, go find a cool forest, grab a fern branch and start sweeping the forest floor, designing all sorts of 'rooms' for a castle using sticks and stones and branches. 

Go down the path a bit and find that frozen-over pond in the winter or that delightfully refreshing summer-time pond. Throw some rocks. Or skate with the skates that you schlepped with you the mile or so back to that pond. 

Walk and walk and walk.  

Look around. 

Smell the fresh pine scent. 

Collect the sap from the trees so that your dad can make maple syrup. Canadian maple syrup. {the finest in the world in my humble opinion.}

Cross-country ski on endless groomed trails. And when you fall -- because you know you will -- just lay in the snow for awhile and look up. Soak it in. The majesty. The splendor. And hopefully snowflakes are swirling all around. 

 I guess this might explain why my very favorite photo shoot locations this fall (and last) were in the forest. I'm just happy there. 

Totally and completely joy-filled. 

The colors make me smile. 

The textures. OH MY. There is life and beauty in what at first glance might look dead. 

It's quiet and curious. 

I just might decide to make my photography business completely woodsy. As in, the only photo shoots I do will be in forests. Because I love them so much. 

Believe you me, I've been seriously considering this -- inventing 'forest portrait photography' and making it my forte so that I could be where I love, doing what I love. And you think I'm kidding? =) I have visions of antique couches plopped right smack-dab in the middle of a forest bed just screaming out for families to come and hang out in! 

I have issues. We know that by now, right? 

A girl can dream, eh? 

 I guess this might also explain why my favorite part of our yearly traditions, both in August and in October, involve camping, being outdoors, and hiking through the woods. With family {both related and non.} 

So with all that being said, today was so magical. 


Why you ask? 

Because we found Winter Woods within five minutes of Mum and Dad's home. 

Who knew? Apparently they didn't, because we've been coming here for years and we just now discovered this loveliness.

{And I have to say that I was DYING that I didn't bring my camera today. Absolutely dying. But, I did snag my mum's point and shoot right out of her hands and kept it until the battery died. And I will say, it was probably a good thing that I didn't have my camera with, because I did go through the ice at one point, and then at another point I fell smack-dab over a log into the snow. Just call me Grace.}

We walked several kilometres, through the snow, on trails and off. 

Across streams.

Hugged by pine trees with snow-laden branches.

The forest simply takes my breath away. 
I guess it's hard to explain if you're not the woodsy type. 
Just nod and say, "Okay, Alysa, whatever." 

I kept saying, to no one in particular, "This is SO beautiful. So stunning. So peaceful."

I'm a 'change girl.' I guess I love the variety that the forest presents. 
Plump trees. 
Skinny trees. 
 Brown trees. 
Green trees. 
Trees standing up. 
Trees falling sideways. 
Trees flat on the snow-covered ground.

Throw some large rocks into the mix. 
And winter grasses that offer a pop of color. 
Dump mass quantities of snow from the sky and voila, you've got yourself some beauty. Serious beauty. 

A stream where the water decides to slip over the log and wander on its way captures my eyes. 

And snow sits on branches about to topple off if I even breathed on it the wrong way. 

And then there's the row of 50 foot trees lining the path that just begs you to keep following it to see what adventure is around the next corner. 

Every once and a while I just have to stop and do a slow 360 to see the different perspectives it takes with a slight turn of the body. 
And then I have to stop. 
And listen. 
And expectantly wait to hear that bird call again. 
And then when it does its special sound I find myself looking and hunting to spot it from afar. 

 I am sort of at a loss for words as to how the forest speaks to me but I'll try my hand at a little pathetic poetry. (For the record, I loathe poetry. Even when I had to teach it I loathed it. I know a couple of dear friends of mine that just gasped out loud. Sorry girls. I do hate poetry. All of it. Can't think of one poem I like.)  
So here's my simpleton attempt at a poem about the Winter Woods, appropriately dubbed "Winter Woods." I'm clever like that.

Winter Woods 
by Alysa 
age 43 
transported back to age 10

I know you by heart, Winter Woods. 
You are familiar from early childhood all up into my forties. 
You've taken on many shapes through those years. 
Snowshoeing into our maple syrup shack. 
Cross-country skiing by the hours. 
Making the Arctic Cat sing and dance going lickity cut through row upon row of straight-backed trees. 

 I know you by heart, Winter Woods. 
You are familiar, even when I've never set foot on your particular plot of land. 
You are full of peace. 
You seem gentle to me. 
You just beg me to reminisce. 
And to wonder. 
And to slow right down, eh? 
 By the very essence of who you are, dear Winter Woods, 
You ask me to be still. 

Winter Woods, I needed you today. 
I've been in a frenzy. 
How do people live like this every day? 
For the first time in years, my December was out-of-control busy. 
I rushed right through it. 
And I didn't like that one bit. 
And next year I will guard it like our little Coco puff guards our home. 
With volume and ferocity. 

Winter Woods, I needed you today.
I needed to get lost in your beauty. 
And I did just that. 
Mercy, did God ever create a masterpiece when He breathed you, 
sweet Winter Woods, 
into being. 
He alone decided when the snowflakes needed to fall to showcase His glory. 

God, you touched my heart today. 
You used something as simple and profound as a walk through your Winter Woods. Perhaps, today's gift of time with You was my favorite Christmas gift this year.

I know you by heart, Winter Woods.

The End.


Cleary said…
When I take pictures with my point and shoot they don't look anything like that :). Well done! And I too loathe poetry, except the couple that I memorized with my grandmother. Your words though we're beautiful and heartfelt and poetic; again well done my creative friend.
Julie said…
I find the same deep peace in the woods and in nature, Alysa! I can imagine how amazing that walk was - makes me wish for a good dumping of snow here!! So so beautiful. Your word pictures tell a beautiful story of your Canada - you transport us right there!! xoxo
Alysa said…
love you, CJ. Thanks for your sweet words. And ALWAYS great to be with you for our New Year's tradition. We made it home safely -- no traffic, home in 1 hour 40 minutes. Hugs your way.
Alysa said…
We are soul sisters, Julie! Love you so much. Can't wait to reconnect -- SOON, I hope.

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