The midwinter wind whistled through the porch door and beat against the shingles. It hummed along the power lines, hurled snow at the windowpanes and puffed at us through the stovepipe draft. Through the window, I watched it play. It divided into gusts that chased each other across the fields. The trees joined in, tossing melting snow from their branches which the wind caught and juggled till the flakes and balls disintegrated. It played ring-a-snowball and whirled in wild circles, then went into hiding and I waited and searched for it. When next it appeared, it had swelled its forces and came racing and swooping down on the house. A few yards off, it rose upward and leaped over the roof. I could resist it no longer. I strapped on my snowshoes and lumbered out after it.
The dog and the wind were delighted to see me and gaily the three of us set off together. In the orchard the gnarled old apple trees leaned staunchly against the impetuous gusts, glowering in annoyance and thrusting out at us with long-fingered hands. One of them, younger at heart, its trunk split like two figures cycling in tandem, joined with us. The bikers leaned into their task, hair blown back and trailing in the wind, but we outstripped them on the hill that sloped down beside the spruce grove out to the open fields.
There, the wind became our guide. Wild with joy to find new playmates, it hurled itself at us. The dog took off with it, swept up in its exuberance, ears lifting like flaps threatening to make him airborne, outstretched nose arrowing through the slipstream. Thinking I was as free as air, I started after them. But wind and exhilaration bowled me over and unceremoniously I was dumped into a nest of deep snow, my clumsy footwear pointing in opposite directions. The dog tore back to me and bounded around and over me, yelping with excitement, exhorting me to follow him now that we were on the same level and both four-legged. I righted myself and on we went, driven by our masterly playmate one minute, battling with it for predominance the next.
The wind led us into the woods and left us there in cathedral silence; suddenly it shook the forest realm so that the older trees groaned and creaked in protest, or clacked and slapped against each other, and young saplings flexed precariously. Alarmed by this boisterous exhibition, we declined to follow farther and backed out sheepishly into the relative safety of the open field.
We were not to escape so easily. The wind raced after us, rushing past us and doubling back. It battered at us, beating us for being cowards and spoilsports. It whipped up the arctic landscape, flinging the snow at us like a desert sandstorm. We stumbled over the ripples and undulations, blindly groping through the stinging onslaught, our destination obliterated, distance and groundswells distorted. This play was too rough. I had had enough. The dog hadn't, but he could stay and play on his own. I'd rather watch from indoors.
Inside the kitchen, I stood by the stove. Warm blood surged, glowing beneath skin cool and fresh. Fingers and toes passed through pain to tingling warmth. Peace replaced exhilaration. Through the window, I saw the spruce tops stir above the barn. The one shaped like the head of a horse began to prance. It tossed its mane and strained its neck and galloped with the wind along the skyline. I watched in delight, from the coziness of the kitchen fire.