A touching phenomenon happens in the woods at this time of year: the temperature is warm enough that natural objects begin to sink into the snow as into a soft enveloping cushion; there's a feeling of tenderness in the way each small thing is held.
A bit of evergreen stem rests beneath an ice-rimmed hole.
Dried leaves have settled into the footstep of a deer.
Scattered needles make a pattern on and in the snow.
Circles bare of snow have widened around the warmth of trees.
Snow and ice have retreated from the bark of an ancient apple tree, and mosses have emerged, looking like a miniature hilly landscape.
The temperature was in the mid 40s today, a beautiful and delightful day. It feels as though it's been 6 months since we've experienced that mildness, though it's probably been only 3. It was a perfect day to begin pruning my apple trees, so after my snowshoe in the woods, I took my hand pruner out to my old lady tree, the first tree I prune each year.
She's very old and bent over, and I don't expect her to live much longer, but there are vigorous new shoots every year, heading straight up, that have to be pruned off. This tree seems so wizened, yet has so much life left in it, that it's a lesson in aging gracefully and with energy.