The forest is brown and bare and still. The winter season is in its early phase; the dusting of snow only dots the old woods road. Perhaps this will be a winter with lots of snow, perhaps not. The chill of winter hangs in the air whether or not snow falls.
Winter is a dry season here, so the cold is more reliable than the snow. The ground is frozen and makes walking more difficult. Every invisible little bump threatens to turn an ankle or cause a misstep when I walk off a trail. The flattened grasses and leaves hide the bumps or holes, and I feel as though I am trying to balance on marbles simply by walking across the old field. I slow down and move more carefully, though that slowness allows the cold to creep under my jacket.
The ponds are frozen, if not yet frozen deep enough to walk on. Dog and Baby Dog eye the ice suspiciously. Dog heads down to the edge of the pond, as though he wants to attempt it. He chooses the wrong spot, where the remains of some summer plant creates a bloom of ice with open water behind it and the sound of rushing water underneath. He steps on the bad ice. It cracks and he retreats. Perhaps if he’d chosen a spot where the ice was smooth and clear... Perhaps tomorrow he will try again.