The world is transforming. I set out early in the morning for my last excursion of the season, to be greeted by a new realm. What was once green and blue has quickly and quietly transformed into shades of orange and deep red. I wandered high into the hills, searching, searching, searching. The air was colder and crisper than below, and from this vantage point, I could see far and wide. Snow covered the hills beyond me. What lay over there? Could I make it on foot? No one would know where I was. The winds changed, and the sharp cold air stabbed me like a knife. In this moment, I knew - Winter is nearly here.
Another morning, another mountain. The air is calm. The echoes of yesterday are still fresh in the forest. The ground is soft and warm. I walked deeper into the forest. Neon flashes in my peripherals brought me back to last season, before autumn, when days were long and nights were short, and I saw the same neon flashes from high above in the evening sky. What are those sounds? Is it a harp? I followed them until I reached a clearing in the forest. The fallen leaves piled neatly in a circle. Green and red auras surrounded the leaves. Why was I here? Where are the birds and wind and rain that reverberated so soon before? I lay on the ground and closed my eyes. What a delicate day.
I'm not cold. I'm not wet, and I'm not tired. Fresh crystals of snow float softly from a gray horizon. I have seen this before in dreams. Bright, billowing clouds fill the sky and roll around like milk splashing into tea. The air smells of static, and yesterday’s fallen leaves are tucked soundly to sleep under a layer of snow. It’s beautiful, and this stretch of forest is in its best form. The birds announce it from the treetops, the wind dances, and the snowflakes dart around the hills, creating wild and electrified patterns. The first snow is upon us.
Morning is yet to come, and I’m gone. I entered a new area of this deep forest I have never seen before. Does this place have a name? I wander through and see vast unexplored horizons. I hear new sounds and creatures that have never been heard before. I am full of anticipation.
I am now alone and left to my own devices. When I arrived, it was silent and still, but quickly the sour and sweet winds picked up speed and began ricocheting from tree to tree and hill to hill, tumbling around — collecting new sounds and emotions as they go. I begin to trek higher and higher up hills and through gullies. Where am I going and why? What is calling me to higher ground? At this moment, I decide that no questions I ask are meant to be answered, and I follow my instincts.
Night comes again, and I decide to stay in this new and curious place. I lay down in a soft and inviting patch of snow, only to discover that it oddly is not cold at all, but warm like a soft quilt on a summer day. Am I imagining this? I don’t question it and accept this oddly inviting gift. As the sun sets and the stars appear one by one, I listen deeply to the universe. More sounds never heard before. More lights and flashes fill the starry sky. I drift deep into a long and soft sleep.
That night I dream. I dream that I melt into the earth. As my body is no longer needed, with no more restraints, I am able to create everything I have ever wanted. Songs, paintings, images, stories — all over the span of endless lifetimes and instantly, all at once. Although my physical body is gone, I can still see deep into those dark, star-filled skies. I can see numerous other worlds, full of lush, deep forests. I can hear them, smell them, feel them. At this moment, I feel whole. I feel complete.
I eventually woke up. The snow is now gone, all but small patches farther up the hills. How long did I sleep? My body feels stiff. Tired. Different. I stretch and make my way further down the path. Are the seasons changing again? Have I slept through the entire winter? Have I truly left my body? Ahead of me in the far distance, I can see sprawling green hills with tufts of snow here and there. I decided that all I can do at this point is keep walking. I need to keep searching for something. I want to see what lies over those green hills, glistening with beautiful melting snow.