On this sunny, cold day in southwestern Ohio, my wife and I opted for a hike around a suburban lake. Due to recent snows and frigid nights, the trail was snow-packed, marked only by the boot prints of humans and the paw prints of their canine companions.
As we trudged along the path, the distinctive crunch of hardened snow provided our background chorus, broken only by the harsh calls of distant crows and blue jays. Indeed, that rhythmic crunch is a nostalgic sound for many of us, associated with brilliant sunshine, cold, dry air and afternoons on the sledding hill. In our later years, it becomes the sound of winter, signaling hardship for some and adventure for others.
For me, the crunch of snow evokes a sense of wildness; it brings to mind the calm winter woods or a frozen yet sun-drenched meadow. Wood smoke scents the air. Noisy geese pass overhead. A fox sniffs along the distant ridge. Another step, another crunch.