Winter has come and set up an extended stay with us. Normally, Winter just comes in for a short visit, oftentimes not even spending the night. It’s one of those drop-bys where Winter would love to stay longer, but is so booked up. There’s a trip to make to the Midwest, then it’s all the way out to the East Coast. There’s 35 inches to drop in Fargo on Wednesday, then 30 to drop on Rochester Thursday night. It’s really been great West Tennessee, I mean it. But, I gotta run. You’ve been a wonderful host. I always love my time here. Now, see you later. You take care. And then Winter leaves us again, to the point that we hardly feel like we even know Winter. And there are definitely numerous pop-ins throughout the early months, but, normally, just short visits. But, this year, Winter has come and brought more than an overnight bag. It has been cold for many, many days. Camp has frozen. Thankfully no pipes have frozen yet (fingers crossed). The conversation, when a person enters the building, inevitably begins with something like, “man, it is cold outside.” It is, of course, a fact we all know–a fact we all know we know–and yet there is a need for it. We need to affirm each others’ observation that it is, indeed, cold out there.
With it being cold for so long, the snow seemed different to me. Usually the snow is much slushier. It normally melts as it hits the ground. But this snow fell intact, did not melt upon contact, and didn’t really even melt when I walked over it. It looks like millions of tiny diamonds on the ground. As I walked to work from Mockingbird Hill this morning, there was a light dust of snow falling on me. It shimmered like there was a dust of feathery jewels falling all around. I like walking around the camp after snowfall. Jeffery (our housekeeper Shay’s son) says that he loves this snowfall, because it makes it easier to track deer. I must agree that it is interesting how you have a short history laid out for you on the ground. You can see how many times Little Red has driven through the camp. You can see that someone drove up the the Alford Recreation Building once and two people got out of the truck, walked in and back out, and the truck circled around to leave. I can tell that the camp dogs walked the circle, most likely to sniff around the loading dock, hoping for fresh trash to drag out. Then, there were some slightly smaller dog prints, possibly Lily, but maybe a fox or coyote who snuck around when no one was awake.
Shay has been doing a deep cleaning of the office building, very apologetic for the dust that she is stirring up. The office does look much nicer, now. We also welcomed our newest staff member, Bill Walker, to camp. He is our new Officer of Development. Already, he’s decorated his office much better than any of the rest of the staff. There are lots of new decorations here. The lake has a thin layer of ice around the edges. The small patch of water between the main land and small island near camp seems to be completely frozen over and has a layer of snow on top (I wouldn’t risk walking on it quite yet, though). It is all a beautiful thing to see.
This time of year changes the senses. Outside it seems like everything is quieter. You hear a noise and think a deer is approaching quickly. Then you realize that it is the crispy, brown leaves still on the beech trees, rattling in the wind somewhere down the trail. You can look out over the white hills and see anything that is moving: bird, squirrel, or deer. The birds seem to be louder, because they aren’t competing with bugs and frogs to be heard. It is an empty feeling at first, but as your senses wake up, you realize that it is still filled with things.
I was walking up to my house for lunch one day this week, and Jacque ran up to accompany me on the trail. Jacque still does not want to be touched by people, but there is something in him that appreciates companionship, because lately I’ve noticed that even if the other two dogs do not follow me on the trail, Jacque will walk with me, just out of arms reach. He was gorgeous to look at on this walk–his jet black body contrasted with the bright white of the snow all around us. He is a very pretty dog–which, I’m sure, frustrates people even more that they cannot pet him. But, during this walk, I was content that he decided to keep me company. That I got a chance to observe him and his colors so vivid against the white snow canvas. On top of that the cardinals, nuthatches, and red-headed woodpeckers are much more visible in this setting. You realize that there are more birds around than you may have thought. The sounds, the sights, they seem louder to my senses, even though the sense of feeling tends to leave while I’m out in this weather.
This weekend we have the joy of hosting the youth of Emmanuel UMC of Memphis. Be in prayer that their time here is enjoyable, that they are changed by this beauty. The roads, I think, should be fine for them (the county has been putting down deicer since the first of the year). Also, the Lakeshore staff will be in Beersheba Springs, Tennessee next week for a Southeastern Jurisdiction Camp Leaders gathering. I hope you all find some way to enjoy this extended visit from Winter.