The sun, just up, reflects in dazzling sprinkles from the lacy frost on the windowpane. No ground can be seen outside, but in its place white, sequinned hills are everywhere. Fence tops show where the lane and corrals are supposed to be, but even some of those are submerged beneath frosty, white ocean-swells, frozen in their tracks.
In boots, hat, heavy coat and mitts, I go outside. The cold is shocking to my face, but so clean...I breathe deeply, burning my lungs, as if to absorb that purity into my soul.
In the dazzling silence I look around, self-conscious as the only actor on the stage, a foreigner in this landscape of motionless chill. I trail my hand across the top of the snow, then plunge it in as far as it will go and fling the silent crystals across the blue reaches of the sky. The thought occurs to me: perhaps that is how God placed the stars.
I shade my eyes with a warm, brightly-mittened hand and venture into the powdery surf, only knee deep here by the porch. I chart a careful course through the troughs, delighting to feel the invincible, white tide dissolve around my knees as I press forward.
Another deep breath, and I notice that my cheeks as well as my lungs are crying out for warmth. But I know that they will not cry for long.
I reach the corral poles. The barn has become a miniature Matterhorn, the snow a drifted peak on its roof, sloping smoothly down to arc around the open shed at its side. The horses, like fire-breathing dragons emerging from a cave on the mountain's slopes, snort a steamy greeting as they come to me, shaking their heads and prancing as if ready to attack the menacing drifts they must cross.
The spell of silence has been broken by the horses and I see in the shards of it, glints of fading magic that had, for a while, colored the morning with its brilliance. I laugh out loud, no longer the only actor on the stage, and fumble to grasp hold of a carrot in my pocket with these silly, thick mittens on.
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