Posted by: Dave Neads | February 12, 2010


What is the softest thing you can think of? I thought I knew what soft was. The electric feel of a cat’s fine fur, the sensuous caress of diaphanous silk, the smoothness of soft skin in secret places, all these experiences were my definition of softness until yesterday.

It was one of those grey days, the kind where I felt like hunkering down beside the heater, finishing a good book, letting the world slide by into the black hole of the past. Yet, somehow, I roused my spirit, knowing that I would feel more alive walking, experiencing the physical inputs of my body, not just relying on my mind to carry me along.

I took my time, pulling on my trusty green felt packs, snugging the old red toque to my head, donning my well worn blue down parka, getting into a different flow of time and action.

Part way down the icy, twisting driveway it began to snow. Well, not snow really. Actually, I’m not sure what to call it. More like a frozen mist, rolling across the meadow, through the cottonwood ghosts, starkly black in their skeletal outline, advancing, slowly, gently, a dull white shroud descending upon the universe.

On impulse I meandered over to a spruce thicket, dominated by a large old Ent, his branches spreading wide and low over the end of the meadow. As I crouched under this magic canopy, I could hear the stream rustling and chuckling as it moved on toward its final destiny. Somehow the little amphitheatre I is was in magnified those stream voices, making me more aware than I have ever been of how the stream talks to the world around it.

At the same time I felt exquisitely cosseted, sheltered, the way I imagine a deer and her fawn would feel snuggled into this vaulted room under the big spruce. Safe, able to see and hear any danger coming or going, yet invisible behind the needle green curtain, backed by the scaly, slate grey bark.

It was then, as I turned my face upward to visually explore the inner most secrets of this magic place that it happened.

The softest, most sensual caress I have ever experienced. Filtering down through the great Spruce’s canopy were the smallest, most perfect snowflakes imaginable. No bigger than the head of an old fashioned straight pin, they seemed to descend through another medium, like a plankton shower in the ocean deeps. More ice crystals than flakes these minature emissaries from the skies above settled gently upon my cheeks.

Such a feeling, not only the magic of the moment, but the contrast of a cold, silent touch on warm flesh, so exhilarating, bringing my skin and senses fully alive.

Now I know what soft is. It is an awareness, not a sense. It is what comes of being intimately caressed by tiny snow flakes, of being alive in a miracle.


  1. Our senses bring us so many gifts. Thank you for sharing yours.

  2. Dave,
    Wonderful writing! Especially by those of us who have been saved by the shelter and comfort of a tree canopy on a cold snowy day!

  3. I felt I was with you under that tree. Thank you for sharing your experience.

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