Sanctuary 

There is a special sort of day that occurs during the winter in Virginia. This sort of day does not occur often. This sort of day does not last. Itís not an Indian Summer, for Indian Summers occur in the fall. Those who do not pay close attention and sleep too late are sure to miss it entirely.

The first of these days I can recall was when I was seven. It had snowed considerably throughout the week. I arose one morning to find the normal grey of winter gone and the sun ruling the sky. Outside the steady trickle of snow melting and water flowing along the gutters could be heard. I wore short sleeves: It was warm! I spent all day walking outside among the melting drifts (sometimes hitting them with a walking stick that I had found which, much to my delight, sent slush spraying everywhere,) and wondering at the strange light.

For you see, on these rare, magical days it is warm, 70 degrees usually, which is practically unheard of during the winter in Virginia. Yet, there is something strange. Something about the light is not quite normal. The light is not strong and hot, such as in the case of summer. Nor is it wakeful and bright, such as in the case of spring. It is a cool, waning, winter sunlight: A blade of hope protruding through the concrete cracks. The day ends early. The trees and brush are bare, brown sticks reaching up toward the sky. There are no green things this time of year, but it is still beautiful.

We havenít yet had snow here this winter (my first snow-less holiday), but yesterday we did have one of these rare winter days. The sort of day where C.Sto and I walked a few miles down the W&OD trail. The sort of day where you do not bother with cell phones or laptops or television. Later that night the Grizz broke out his telescopes and showed us Saturn.

I try, but capturing these days with words seems impossible. For words do not work like nets: You cannot capture natureís nooks by force. You must, instead, gently paint a picture. Without paint. And one is never actually allowed to use 1,000 words... As I sit in my room struggling with metaphors, the winter light fades back to grey.

Yes, it was that sort of day.

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