Friday, March 23, 2007

When Summer Played with Winter

The warm puff of wind came out of nowhere.

I was hiking through a stand of poplars along the brow of a hill and the change in temperature overwhelmed me. Compared to the ambient autumn air of the canopied trail, the change was startling. With the warmth came a verdant lushness as if the wind were wet and alive.

After a few seconds the warm zephyr was replaced with a cool breeze that chilled the perspiration on my back. The cold air dissipated as quickly as the hot.

I stopped and looked, thinking I might see some cause, but I didn’t.

The forest wasn’t dense and sunlight filtered into small alcoves of grass-covered ground, but there was no sun where I stood, and there wasn’t a cloud in the Alberta blue sky.

Thereafter the warm puff continued to visit, always accompanied by her chill counterpart, as if summer were playing with winter in autumn’s forest. The blithe winds disappeared when the trail emerged into a wide expansive meadow.

I kept looking back into the forest, somehow expecting to see something.

“Little pockets of dense hot air, hovering over the sun-exposed alcoves, and pushed into my path,” I thought.

“Yes. That must be it,” I decided.

“And the chill counterpart was the ambient autumn air that only felt cold by comparison and then dissolved into itself.”

The explanation made sense but didn’t satisfy.

What I’d really felt was the presence of a playful forest spirit.
She met me on the path and watched as I walked lost in my thoughts. Forest spirits like to tease. She kept some distance ahead while she planned her mischief, and then slowed down and allowed me to catch up. She let me come so close that we almost touched. Then she stopped, turned abruptly, and exhaled. Her warm lushness enveloped me like a womb. When I stopped, perplexed, she skipped ahead and left a chill giggle in her wake.

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