I am sitting cross-legged in the dark, reading by headlamp. The rest of the house is a still silence I’m trying hard not to break. Turning pages, sipping tea, watching the sky get light. I get dressed and slip out the door, pulling it closed carefully, making no sound but for one final click behind me. Outside the sky is blue-yellow, the air is sweet and crisp and the sun is not yet over the horizon. The overnight gift of fresh new powder covers everything, a perfect and teasing blue winter light. Lewie looks up at me as I put on my skis. Heading out into the fluff, my little four-legged pal takes a jolly lead, filling his nose with new sniffs. We cruise past farmhouses, eagerly gobbling up this delicious early morning gift. High open fields are hugged by acres of tapped sugar maples awaiting the spring sap run.

Later, there is chatting and planning and movement in the kitchen as oatmeal bubbles in the pot. The day stretches out ahead, full of possibility and new trails to explore. Smiles stretch our pink winter-kissed cheeks. Our zestful spirits can not be contained. Hearts pounding, words flowing back and forth, legs and arms moving us forward through life. It’s marvelous, this thing we are doing: frolicking about in the Northeast Kingdom on a weekend in February. Creating time and space to come together and romp around in this endless winter beauty. Our sweet good fortune twirls around the room, lays herself across the table between full bowls of hot food, dashes from woodsy trail to high meadow vista, and curls up next to the roaring wood stove. We are alive, together, whole, privileged. We dutifully and gratefully wring every bit of joy from the day and each other.

On another in-your-face day of good fortune I find myself in a warm room filled with magnificent people, hot food, and good cheer. Again, so mind-blowingly lucky. We are toasty and fed, healthy and free from oppression. Autonomous, self-directed, independent, educated. I’ve somehow been invited into this circle of cool, outdoorsy, intelligent, fun, edgy, wonderful women who gather from time to time to talk about written words and the ideas they ignite. We talk about books we have read and books we’d like to read next. Sharing ideas and laughs and wine while dogs roam from one set of petting hands to another. Outside it is bitterly cold and the crescent moon opens herself to a sky full of stars. A sky we gawk at as we say our goodbyes and head for home, each of us, to a place much like this one: warm, safe, where people who love us are waiting.

And now today, another stunning day dawns. A bluebird sky and sunlight streaming through windows. Another best day stretches out ahead. The light, the tops of trees, the birds. This place is painfully beautiful. I tromp through the woods with EB, answering her questions, asking some of my own, looking at winter shadows. She pauses now and again to photograph leaves, ice formations, the light, trying to capture the sometimes brilliant and sometimes very subtle beauty all around us. Lewie darts across the frozen crust of snow, in perpetual pursuit of invisible animal scent contrails. We are animate, breathing, conscious, and inexplicably given another day to live. It humbles me. I gush with dumb-struck gratitude. It can’t be overstated: we are impossibly fortunate.