Mist scuttles across the still lake, the vapors appearing silver in the early morning dusk. It’s cold and each exhaled breath vanishes in a cloud of steam as I wait for the sun to arrive.
At this time of year, the light comes slowly. I am barely outside for a few minutes when the cold has set a chill in me, but I still wait, finger resting lightly on the camera shutter.
At this hour, it is quiet enough that I could believe I am alone out here, but experience tells a different story. These woods are likely filled with soft-moving animals, moving about their business or watching me watch the morning arrive.
As if on cue, a deer startled by the shutter’s click dashes from the woodline where she had been standing, perfectly camouflaged with the grey tree trunks. Snow fell last night and her hooves leave fresh prints as she bounds across the field, joining a dozen other tell-tale tracks.
I imagine that my obsession with watching the day arrive may seem a puzzling habit to whatever wild animals are watching me, but as the light grows, I can hear the woods rousing around me. Blue jays call, again and again, their cries echoing through the cold air. Abruptly, a flock of goldfinches take to the rose-hued sky, dipping in synchronized movement, light shining through the feathers of their wings.
When I was a kid, these first snowy mornings of the year were a thing of pure joy. The snow transformed my world, signalling the season of sledding and skating, wet snow packed into flying missiles to be launched at siblings and friends.
While the transformation signals something slightly different to me these days (although one should never outgrow the willingness to engage in a good snowball fight), I admit the sight of the first soft flakes drifting out of the sky still fills me with a kind of excitement despite my numb toes.
There is something rather special about living in a place that can transform itself so completely, each sunrise revealing something new about the world.