Icy winds cut across my cheeks and thrash nearby tree branches into submission, as the soles of my sneakers crunch through last years undergrowth and frozen mud. Hunkering down to walk to the mailboxes, the chill is already seeping into my skin as if trying to steal my warmth. I pass by a lone fir tree standing sentinel over another apartment, its branches creaking in wooden melodies as unseen wind spirits dance around it in joyous abandon. Beneath the fir’s shade lies a lonely looking birch branch that calls to me, casting visions of a wand at me like a broadcast of a last hope. So I walk across piles of sandy snow still clinging to the ground in shaded hollows, mirrored in shape by muddy gulfs where anemic sunbeams have fallen long enough to warm the earth to rescue it.
The bark feels smooth and a sweetness washes over me as I stroke it, and place it within my sweatshirt pocket to warm up. The air smells of snow, and moist dirt, all around me is still frozen in monotone colors of last season’s death, belying the calendar’s claims of warmer weather. Continuing my trip to the mail boxes I see another branch on the ground, a small forked tine that demands to be picked up as well, telling me it belongs with my collection casting set, and is warmed in another pocket.
I check the mail boxes, and begin the trek back to the house, only to feel a nudge to trek down a side road nearby. The winds buffet my back as if pushing me along, and the trees sing in wooden creaks at my arrival, as if welcoming me back. Skeletal bushes wave at me as I pass, an offering of a birch staff within their branches beckons my attention. I begin to free it from their grasp, and feel an unseen presence watching from behind me. I look quickly, but see only old fir tree trunks and a cleared field. I leave a carved bead behind in thanks for this gift, and walk further along the muddy side road, eager to be out in nature after so long being cooped up within man made walls.
The birch staff fits in my hand perfectly, its straggly bark hanging from it like a shedding snakeskin, it even has a fork at the top where I envision hanging charms and magic. As I walk along the path my eye is caught by a triangular stone lying on the ground, a grey and white river stone of granite, speckled with iron red stains that nestles into the palm of my hand like a small animal seeking my caress. It joins the forked branch within my pocket as I leave another bead in thanks to the forest for my gifts.
I begin to make my way back home, the wind suddenly growing colder and cutting against my face like icy blades. I retrace my path back to the fir tree, and see trash strewn at its base, and gather it up to throw it away as an offering. As I have no more gifts to leave this time. As I round the corner towards my house I wave a farewell as the tree and whisper my thanks for its gifts, and promise to be back soon for another visit. A solitary beam of sunlight falls across my path as I reach my home, warming me for an instant before gliding clouds dance across the sky above me, the retreating warmth rolls off my skin like a loving touch. I breathe in the coldness around me deeply, taking in the scents of the wildness that my home is tucked into, and step back inside to warm up my treasures and myself. I wash the stone and tuck it into my pocket again, and place the staff, wand, and forked tine by the door to warm up and dry out before I begin their transformation and rebirth.
Being a Witch is something I cannot find enough words to describe it properly. But it fits me, scares me, welcomes me, devours me, heals me, breaks me, remakes me into something better, and teaches me so much that I could never give it up.