A Cold Morning
I woke this morning and went outside and was instantly bit by a cold north wind blowing through the twenty-seven-degree air. While this is Normal December weather in other parts of the county, down here on the gulf coast, this is unseasonably cold. With that said, I was excited.
I rushed back into the house and grabbed my coat and my hat, my pipe, and my tobacco because these are the days made for lunting.
Today’s pipe? My ever-trusty country gentleman, and today’s tobacco?
The ever-faithful Carters Hall.
I was almost unable to contain my joy at my first cold-weather lunting of the year. You see, while I may be a Gulf Coast beach boy right now, I am from the Highlands in the foothills of North Carolina. The first bite of cold every year takes me away in spirit back to my home state.
Packing my pipe in my typical fashion and feeling the bite of cold on the tip of my nose, I began to walk, pausing only to light my bowl.
Heading down my driveway, the Woods on both sides were much more calm than usual. No squirrels were running about, no birds chattering in the branches. The frogs’ familiar plop by the pond did not happen; the familiar eyes of the snapping turtles appearing just above the waterline were not there.
In a sense, I felt alone. Cold, quiet, and alone. And it was fantastic. Because lunting is my time for self-reflection and deep thought, and this morning was no different. I heard the neighbor’s dogs whining against the cold, and I heard the call of the Canadian Goose flying somewhere overhead yet in the distance.
My thoughts today are on nothing but the cold. The briskness of the wind, the sting, and the bite on my nose and eyes. The slight discomfort of my toes as they began to feel the cold. My toes cannot handle the cold. Once they get cold, my whole body is cold. It is probably some weird physiological defect that I was born with, and it is also my curse when I do not wear warm socks on a cold day. Today was the day that I wore the wrong socks.
Ignoring the coldness that I felt in my feet as it slowly began to work its way at my body, making my knee ache, a reminder of younger and dumber times in my life, I could not help but shiver just a little. Partially from the cold and partially from that time in my life that gave me my bum knee.
It is days like today, where I cannot distinguish my breath from the pipe’s smoke. But you know that is how it sometimes goes in life; you cannot distinguish one thing from another, and sometimes you don’t need to. I can smell tobacco. I could taste the aromas of the smoke, but the smoke, it eluded me, lost in the vapor of my breath and the rising fog of the pond.
It is almost magical watching the fog rise from the pond when the air is colder than the water. As I began the walk this morning, the sun was starting to rise, and the pond was nothing but a dark spot with the smoke rising from it as if the earth itself was going lunting that morning. These little moments like this when you and this little rock in space that you call home, seem to fall in sync with each other. That thrill of the thought that mother earth is sharing a special moment with you.
It is a silly thought; there is no question that the earth would take time out of its finite orbit, out of its constant spinning and shifting, out of its swelling and ebbing to pay any attention at all to me. What am I to this planet but as a flea to a dog?
As I draw another puff of smoke from the pipe, swirling the smoke around my tongue and exhaling into the frigid air.
I am consumed once more with that which is quiet.
There is absolute beauty in the quiet that cannot match other situations in life.
There is a calm in the quiet that can be both enlightening and transcending.
And sometimes, many times, a quiet mind is where we find our most blissful rest.
Because every moment we live in our lives is not a moment filled with thoughts, plans, goals, etc., we must sometimes be quiet and do absolutely nothing. For through this silence, we can find a path that leads us to true wisdom.
Heading back home now as I near the end of my bowl, I have but one thought to give, I have but one respect to pay, I have but one way to say it. There’s solitude call, and there is peace, there is wisdom, and there is spirit, all of which in the silence amplifies in the cold surrounding us.
With the wind biting at the back of my neck and my toes now gone numb, I climbed the hill leading to my front step, leaving the cold to the ever-growing light of a brand-new day. As I step into my home, my warmth and comfort, I am leaving behind the bitter chill, even yet knowing that it is there waiting for me to return.
Psalm 46:10a: “Be still, and know that I am God…”
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