Winter Forest Lullaby: A Short Story


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The night began to cast its gentle, dim darkness on my quaint, coastal town of Washington State.  There, the hues of sunlight fractured the impending snow storms canopy of puffy grey clouds with their gentle crimson and honey-colored rays that just glazed the frost-covered needles of the Sitka spruces.  The week’s fill of hectic school work was complete and I made my way down the freshly salted highway.  I drove slowly with the windows open, listening to the gentle pitter-patter of ice flakes fall from the sky, soon to be a new coat of soft, clumpy snow on top of our last snowfall.  I focused on the snow to relax my mind from the week’s ordeals.  There was an opening to the evergreen forest I passed each day where it’s inviting display of old-growth trees crafted with their outstretched branches always seemed to glisten like diamonds from the morning frost.  Upon their needles hung tiny icicles shaped like daggers, unique after each winter storm.

I pulled my car over, silenced the engine, and stepped onto the hard, crunching snow that carpeted the soil.  There were no more cars on the highway now, and the forest’s natural silence overtook me.  The snow began to pick up, but the winter forest was pulling me in.  I followed a path into the twilight-lit depths of the woods.  Above me, the snowflakes began their gentle descent onto the forest floor lined with candy cane-shaped ferns.  The trees with their deep emerald green clusters of needles and chocolate-colored pinecones became glistening ornaments decorating all the spruce and cedar in sight.  The branches were quickly blanketed in snow and as I took a closer look, I saw a horoscope of Nordic shapes create an array of nature like no other.

I continued my journey through the woods, compelled to move further by this serene and enchanted forest.  A lullaby began to sing.  The winter breeze sang like a wind-chime, gentle and fresh.  The needles and branches swayed in the wind causing the icicles to ring like small bells, forming their own orchestra.  The air passed through my nose with hints of mint, damp earth, and coastal salt that refreshed and soothed my senses, making me fall deeper into the arms of the forest’s lullaby.  I found a patch of snow shaped like a pillow just between two old-growths and closed my eyes.  Slumber overtook me as I focused on the tender sensation of snowflakes melting on my warm face, the quiet calls of owls in the wind of the jungle gym above me, and the fragrance of winter’s elements intertwine with the breeze.

My sleep pulled me through a collage of my winter favorites.  I dreamed of the grapefruit and copper sunsets that lit the evening sky when Washington’s rain was on its rest.  I dreamed of the sweet smell of a warm cup of hot chocolate in my hands as I walked along the rocky beaches.  I dreamed of the winter forest’s mesmerizing serenity.

I awoke to a sound.  “Who’s there?”  I asked the brisk December wind.

As I adjusted my eyes to the faint light, I saw the woods transformed by winter’s beauty.  The trees became sculptures of ice and snow laced with delicate emblems of swirls and stars formed by their needles.  Around me lay a thick quilt of pristine white snow where only the wind blew sparkles of snow-glitter into its own constellation above me.  The lullaby began to sing again.  This time I heard the ocean’s waves a few miles away join into the winter choir.  Ice sheets stretched across the trunks of the trees catching the puffy snow like a net creating patches of Sherpa-like snowballs.  Then the chorus line was broken by a small chirp of a cardinal that flew through the forest followed by a muffled howl that seemed only miles away.  It must be dusk, I thought, I should probably head home.  The forest’s creatures were awakening from their brief rest as they waited for the storm to settle down.  While the snow still fell in the silent forest, I could hear a knock of a woodpecker, a footstep of a deer, and a scurry of a chipmunk.

I stood up to stretch and slowly began my journey back to my car.  I was reluctant to leave this place of peace where the winter took me in as a stranger and allowed me to rest among its company.  The forest will never leave, I reminded myself, it will wait for my return.  I made my way through the woods, under its icicles and over its clumps of snow, leaving my trail of footprints behind.

I reached my car and started the engine.  As I waited for the heater to fill the cabin with warmth, I stared back at the spruce and pine trees swaying in the wind with their goodbyes.

I put the car in drive and made my way down the highway, lowering the window just slightly to hear the forest’s lullaby.  I found myself singing, “I’ll be back,” into the winter chorus.