The path turned and I walked under a canopy of entwined cedar branches, their green darkened to onyx by the night. Although dark, the snow covered path glowed with a dim light, faintly emerald tinted, as though I were walking on pale sand at the bottom of a green southern sea illuminated by moonlight.
The path takes another turn and I’m at the edge of a small meadow, the snow deep, unmarked, glittering. Looking up, I see the stars twinkling coldly in the vast indifference of the sky. A breeze, moving slowly through the frigid air, takes snow crystals from the trees and scatters scarves of diamond dust across the meadow.
And then, as if it were following the swirling snow scarves, a Great Horned Owl glides silently out of the dark forest. Enthralled, I watch as it sails without a sound across the meadow. Whitened and silvered by moonlight and starlight, it seems to be a winter magic conjured by moon, stars, and snow. Only its shadow, a hard-edged pool of unforgiving darkness, proves that it is real.
Long after the owl has vanished, I stand in awe-struck wonder, caught fast in the crystal enchantment of the night.
It is not until the ice-filled, needle tipped hand of the rising wind caresses my cheek that I step back on to the path and let it lead me around the meadow and down through the moon-dappled, snow-sparkled forest to my cottage. I anticipate with gratitude the comfort of drinking a cup of hot chocolate by a warm hearth. As I open the door and step into the fire-lit coziness of my cottage, I turn back to the night and savor its enchantment for a moment longer. Then slowly, regretfully, I close the door on the magic night, the stars and the Moon Owl.