There is not much that compares to a perfect winter day. Days when the temp is warm enough that you don't need big gloves or substantial layers. The wind is non-existent, allowing for the snow to drift slowly and peacefully down to the ground. The forest looks untouched despite the countless tracks underneath the latest layer of snow. It looks and feels magical.
Your breath is different when the air is colder... you feel alive and are reminded of that in a diffent way with each inhale. Maybe it is the contrast between the many (many) grey, cold, icey, treacherous days and the fewer "perfect" ones that make them so magical. Maybe they are, in fact, just magic.
As I wandered around the forest, solo, on snowshoes I spent most of the time breaking trail. Partly because I was looking for a solid workout but also because I wanted to feel slightly lost (as lost as you can be in a heavily trafficked forest just outside of a city). I started to follow tracks of other another snowshoer. As I walked in his or her steps it felt as though I got a secret glimpse into their experience of this magical winter day. I felt alone and connected at the same time. Then, comically, I wondered if any of these tracks could have actually been my own. It was snowing heavily enough that my tracks were likely dusted over quickly. Therefore, maybe I was seeing the forest from a new perspective of my own.
Oh, the thoughts that pop up on a solo trek....
I have a busy mind. I also have a regular mindfulness practice. I try very hard to be present and being outside really helps make it easier. There is so much that keeps you in the moment when you are outside - sounds, smells, safety, beauty. Like most of us, my mind wanders... often. Sometimes this rabbit hole includes things that don't really help my mood - like lists, to-dos, and should've could'ves. My "Type A" personality makes me side track on the above during most of daily life. Maybe that's why I like being outside so much... its harder for my mind to wander to that place. When it does wander sometimes I enjoy the places it goes (like the above reflection on who's perspective I was experiencing) and I am often naturally brought back into the moment by nature itself cuing my mind to be in the present (a branch breaking, the path forking, a chipmunk running by). Organic mindfulness (haha... makes sense though, right?). Magical.