The morning offered me a snowfall and a forest.
Thank you, God, for this.
We all decided to walk through the woods to school instead of on the paved path alongside the trees. I wanted to find animal tracks in the snow, and I scanned the ground.
Along the way, we saw what we thought were hawks, but they could have been owls. They took flight, and their wings spread out in a pattern of spotted caramel. They tucked their wings back to themselves as they landed on branches above our heads. They were surely looking for animal tracks, too.
We stood there for a long time and wondered what we were seeing. Maybe they were examining us as well.
I’m still not sure, even after seeing all the pictures I could find of Pennsylvania owls and hawks, what we experienced. They were too big and fluffy to be hawks, but their heads seemed more hawk-like than owl.
I never imagined that one day, I’d be the kind of person who cared deeply about whether I saw an owl or a hawk, who walked to school through a snowy forest, and who rejoiced over thousands of days of moments in nature, with friends who’d go with me off the paved path.
But I am this person now.