Headed east on the highway, the snow blows hard across the cracked asphalt. In places it sticks, and other places it blows so hard it hides the path. The morning sun shines bright, and creates glowing corn stalks in the fields, cut and frozen, sticking out of the ground like sticks and stumps. The frozen grasses peak through the snow banks, and stand at attention, too cold to wave. The skeletons of the trees shimmer in the sunlight, glimmering in the wind. The snow flecks like glitter thrown into the wind, scatter through the air where the tree rows block the wind, then they roar like a white freight train where they fly freely.
I hold the steering wheel tightly, every shelter belt a place where the wind tries to push the travelers off the road. The sheltered areas have the white road, and the open areas have the black. But its business as usual as everyone is headed to work, or school, or to whatever destination is the normal hum-drum, day-in day-out trip.
The fox runs out across the ditch from a hiding spot tucked away from the cold and the howling winds. He hesitates at the highway edge; looking, sniffing. He darts out, stops unsure, then runs again to the safety of the opposite ditch and a line of trees where he disappears quite quickly; his red coat somehow camouflaged into the dirt covered snow banks littered with tree limbs.
I press the scan button on the radio and listen to the chatter, the blips of songs I don’t recognize, and then settle on a song I know by heart. I meet the cars, trucks, and semi’s, and notice the driver’s faces. Some are on their phones, in animate conversation, smiling and laughing. Others look like zombies, driving this road a zillion times; they could do it in their sleep, and probably have. The sun reflects off their cars as they go by, shining in my eyes.
What do they see?
Do they see the sun shining in its winter glory? Did they see the fox in his winter coat?
Do they see the grasses, dormant, waiting patiently for spring to arrive? Do they see the beauty of the landscape?
The fields glow, littered with sparkling diamonds. As I turn off and change directions, the red glow still lingers in my sight when I blink, from the low winter sun shining into my field of vision. The snow now rippling across the road from a different direction, creating the illusion that the vehicle is going much slower than it really is. I check the speed, and adjust.
The days grow longer and the sun flies higher in the sky. The air grows warmer and the plants and animals rejoice, the people rejoice. In excited anticipation we plan our activities for the warmer months. I plant the hard little seeds in flats of soil, placed on shelves in my basement. I water them, give them light, and pray for them to grow. The elusive ones I check with apprehension, nothing yet. Will they sprout? Will they grow? Or will they lie dormant in the wet dirt and rot?
Some seeds are fragile, and require much care and pampering to grow. Other seeds are aggressive, growing out of control. Nature is wild, unpredictable, like the fox, and the wind, and the snow. People try to domesticate nature, and in some little ways we succeed; we plant the fields, cut trees, predict the weather. But we are foolish if we believe we have any of it under control.
The fox curls up in his den, warm with his mate. The wind howls in the branches over this little hole in the ground, and they sleep, oblivious.