The crunch beneath my feet is altogether different from the leaves of fall.
Brittle and unforgiving is the earth of frozen winter, even here where snow has yet to fall, where the empty parking lot and the barren trails give way to the solitude of woods in the winter.
From a gravel road to a muddy trail frozen with both horse and human prints, the trail leads deeper into the woods eventually opening up to stream crossing partially frozen, then campground, then forgotten pavement and back to the wood.
Overhead, the sky so blue against the sleeping trees, serene and beautiful. And so cold. Stinging cheeks and numb thighs trigger memories of childhood snow days, feet protected by bread bags and not quite waterproof boots and hands in frozen woolen mittens.
Only the birds seem to be thriving, fat and loud, their calls echoing through the winter woods as they plan for the new year. And the moss and the winter fern give hope for eventual spring.