We shall go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure…
— Henry David Thoreau
In the spirit of undying adventure we set off into a beautiful day.
It snowed yesterday and was overcast all day, but today the sky is brilliant blue and dotted with the suggestions of clouds. The sun is out and the snow looks like it is sparkling. I didn’t think to bring sunglasses with me in December.
We head off on our usual walk across the meadow and down to the woods. As we reach the entrance to the woods I notice a swing hanging from a tree in the next meadow along. I’ve never noticed it before. It is as though everything is pronouncing its presence in the bright, piercing light.
We tramp – and it really is tramping when your feet sink through inches of snow with every step – over to the swing. It has a grey, weather-worn plank of wood for a seat, with thick ropes attaching it to the perfect swing branch. The tree itself seems to crackle out of the ground and up in to the sky, as though shocked in to being by the brilliant light of the day.
The seat is encrusted in a thick layer of clear ice so I stand on it to swing. I’m reminded of the cherry blossom tree back in Manchester and how it was always the focal point for the children on my street in the summer. I wonder if the local children meet here too. I can almost see them. Some are sat in the branches of the tree, others are sat in the shade with their backs against the trunk, and one child is sat on the coveted swing, languidly pushing with a foot against the long grass and the fierce summer heat. I can hear their politics of friendship and fairness and their quarrels and makings up, all ringing out in the distilled winter air.
I lean back and looked up in to the tree. I look up long enough to notice that the branches are coated in a layer of frost, but I soon have to close my eyes against the light.
I could do this for hours, but there are woods to go to and other adventures to be had. So we set off into the web of sunlight and pine tree branches, along the river, which is tar black and flowing slowly, as though the cold has drained all thoughts of liveliness from it, and back home again. A circle, a small adventure, a beautiful day.