It's 20 below outside. The branches of the spruce trees hang low under their burden of snow. I go carefully along the forest trail, the dogs running ahead of me, the babe sleeping peacefully, nestled in the wrap under the coat. It's past eleven in the morning and the sun has finally crested the hills. The sky is brilliant and clear and the sunlight filters through the trees, casting brighter patches on the blue-shaded snow.
We duck under the drooping boughs, and skirt the trees that lean across the path. But for Cilla's occasional bark at a squirrel, sounding muffled in the closeness of the season, and the crunch of my muk-luks, it is silent. No more traffic on the highway. Even the chickadees are silent today.
Eventually, the path rises up and the dark spruce open out into a clearing of alder trees, their bare, twisted branches silhouetted against the bright blue of the sky. The ground slopes down to where water springs up from the earth--frozen now beneath the snow. Here, the sun shines without the hindrance of the thick woods. The dogs run up and down the hill, my canine familiars, rejoicing in the light. I stop and turn my face towards it, closing my eyes and breathing in the sharpness of the air. I feel the sun on my face, and imagine that bit of bared skin passing the light on through my whole body. I feel the light running through me. Physically, I feel lighter: my shoulders relax under the slight weight of my son on my chest; I feel as though I'm rising up through my body. I feel lighter in spirit, knowing the sun is there, if only briefly.
I store the light deep down inside, and will bring it out tonight, as I light candles and lamps to illuminate the darkness that closes in around us.