I just returned from a week in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where both sides of my family have their roots, and where I was raised. There are lots of lovely things I'd like to share, but for now, I just want to share this stunning bit of cold, bright, beauty.

Snow & solitude, a walk through the woods

I took an extra long walk today, walking cautiously along the sidewalks where I encountered some civilization in the form of other bundled-up walkers. But the bulk of my walk was alone, through the woods between my apartment complex and the downtown area of Vinings. The train tracks that pass right by my home hold a special spot in my heart, as the soothing sound of trains passing throughout the day has become a comforting sound. The nearness and charm of the train (which never honks, by the way, making all the difference) has fostered a kind of fascination that I've never had before with trains. I was not crazy for them as a child, as is more common for little boys (including my brother Neil) than little girls. The only thing I can blame for my new found interest might be my time at the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History, but even that doesn't quite explain it. I've lived here since June and have had a back-of-the-mind kind of goal to find the train track someday, because it is obviously close to my building but not at all visible.

Along my 3.5-hour walk today, I finally found the spot where the train passes my home. This seems strange, maybe, but it's extremely hilly around here, and the steep cliffs where the trains pass are for serious hikers or crazy people, only. I have always wanted to go exploring off the concrete and previously-trodden tracks through the woods, but they seem to be untouched for intelligent reasons--for keeping bones intact and not looking like a 5-year-old crawling up a steep edge. Somehow the snow makes all that OK, so I was literally on my hands and knees, shoving my boots firmly in the snow and using the spare limbs to pull myself up this high spot without slipping. I was rewarded with what I expected might be at the top of that cliff: the tracks! The place where that phantom train I always hear but never see crosses into my neighborhood.

I used the tracks as my guide into historic Vinings, where I found an open CVS that had some Dunkin Donuts ground coffee on sale, which was the one thing that seemed to be ailing me--I'd run out, and that's not good when I'm stuck in my house for days. It felt nice to be out in the world, but relatively safe on my own two feet, in my trusty old white snow boots. I hadn't actually had to pull those boots out since I'd visited Upper Michigan in December a few years ago, so it was fun to have something ready to stomp around in, and climb up steep cliffs.

It was a bit surreal as I was following the tracks back home to see only one other set of footprints--the ones I had left earlier that day. I love the fact that in metro Atlanta, I was the only person who enjoyed this stretch of the city on this day, during the crazy snowfall of 2011.

The unexpected extra free time has allowed me to finish a duvet cover for my bed that I had long been planning to put together, and also gave me no excuse not to clean up the whole apartment. I also organized months of backed-up paperwork, loan and bank statements, grad school stuff, old classwork, things I'd pulled out of magazines, and everything else that had seemed to pile up in drawers and corners near my two desks. I've also started to watch the second season of Modern Family; what a great show.