Last night I skied after dark, down past the pond, where less than three weeks ago (I remember the date: November 3) I’d taken my last swim of the season. The water painfully cold then, though surely colder now under its annual rind of ice and snow. I liked the way the beam of light from my headlamp illuminated the individual flakes as they fell. They hovered in the air, a slow descent, each so inconsequential, and yet there I was, gliding atop a foot-deep layer, an unfathomable count. I remembered reading once that someone had calculated the total number of grains of sand in the world. I couldn’t recall what the number was (trillions? At least), deciding anyway (and on no particular basis) that surely flakes of snow out-number grains of sand.
I turned left past the pond and entered the woods. Not sweating yet, but I could feel it rising, just beneath the skin, that welcome flush before the pores open. The trees close around me, the short reach of my headlamp showing me only as much as I needed to see.