Winter’s Gentle Touch
The colder air creeps in slowly
Moving from the North to the South
The beginnings of Winter have arrived
Arctic air taking small bites within the season
I recall Winters in Germany from my past
Snow drifts halfway up my driver’s door
Arriving over the length of a twelve-hour shift
Burying everything in a quiet blanket of white
The turn of the Wheel is the same every year
But the weather never truly cooperates
Warm temperatures one year, deep snow in another
Gentle reminders that each day is truly unique
Here in December, my thoughts always turn to the winters I have had in the past. December of 1993 provided a deep, heavy, and wet snow in Kaiserslautern, Germany. One afternoon, I left my apartment in Vogelweh Housing and went walking in the wooded area behind Kapaun Air Station. I followed the cleared area underneath the power lines that went through the woods into the rear area of the Air Station. The snow was eighteen inches deep. Not quite as deep in some places, and heavy snow drifts in others. Apparently the weather had warmed slightly, so there was also a deep, thick fog. A fog that reminded me of England. My footsteps sounded like an army tromping through the woods instead of a single individual. I could hear my breathing as I climbed the hill. Everything that I did just felt so intrusive to that tranquil peace.
When I reached the top of the hill, I found the walking path I always used in the warmer Summer days. Well, sort of. It was completely obliviated by its new white covering. But I could see the stone bench just in the distance. Once I arrived there, I pushed off the wet snow and sat down. Everything was so quiet. No bid sounds. No traffic sounds in the distance. A few moments later, the loudspeaker from the Air Station blared the retreat followed by the United States national anthem. The end of the military duty day. A moment where the entire base comes to a stop and renders proper courtesies to the flag. A solemn moment, but a moment that has pierced the shroud of calm, quiet, and peace on that evening.
I’m no longer in the military. I’ve been out of uniform a little more than three times the years that I was in uniform. I still seek the solitude of the outdoors from time to time. Most of the time, that takes place in the form of a walk through the neighborhood. Even in the so-called Texas winters, I can hear the birds calling out, and nearby traffic patterns announcing the drivers – typically in the form of deep bass pounding from drivers’ announcing the rap music that they are listening. Snow? Not always typical in Texas. The temperature in December can by anywhere between the fifties and the eighties. The colder weather doesn’t reach this far south in North America until late December or early January. Most Yule festivities include a much-needed glass of iced tea instead of a cup of hot chocolate or some hot tea.
“Winter’s Gentle Touch” is meant to reflect ever so slightly on those memories, while focusing on the memories being made in this exact moment. Each moment is different. Every moment is new and exciting. Much like each concert by the Grateful Dead (and now Dead & Company) is different from every other show they played. No song is played the same twice. There are always subtle differences. Those subtle differences make each concert a new experience. A moment to live in the here and now.
People often inquire as to how I approach my Druidry – well, this is it. Each day is a new experience. Even if I do the exact same things that I did yesterday. My actions, my motions, my words – all that can be exactly the same. But I cannot control the environment around me. There will always be those subtle differences that create a new experience. Different and unique as a fingerprint. Different and unique like the snowflakes I used to watch from my second-floor balcony in Vogel Housing in Kaiserslautern, Germany.
Winter is on its way here in Texas. The leaves are falling from the trees now. Soon, the northern winds will blow colder as the weather pattern shifts. Soon.