Premature Spring This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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The winter is picturesque poison; its beauty barely makes up for its bitter bite. Each new day – be it in December, January, or February – engraves an icy image into my mind. With each passing year, I find it a true challenge to endure the cold months and their often delayed departure.

However, there is a moment, one instant each new year, when my desperate mind is stunned. I raise my head to find fields of flora – not snow. I look at my ankles and find no frostbite. Each blessed time this happens, I'm compelled to hike and absorb the wonders of winter and spring combined. What I find never ceases to amaze me.

On a trail crisscrossing mountains, I trek into nature's depths, fully aware that the day will end soon. The sun is wholly above the earth's edge, and the two great bodies are about to kiss. Trees, knolls, and gorges are lit by an evening glow that radiates orange against the navy blue sky. Distant birds cast evening salutes, the richest cries I've heard all day. Slowly, I cross a sodden pasture matted down from the weight of the winter sky's tears. Within the grass lie desperate catacombs – mouse tunnels, a cold reminder of the harsh months. Pristine puddles are everywhere, each reflecting a peachy hue. Faintly, I see them touching the shadow beneath the horizon. Nearby, dollops of frogs' eggs float in water.

The sun sets a little bit more, dipping below a mountain's silhouette, although it still heats the land like a fresh skillet. Stopping, I begin to notice patterns behind this season's uniqueness. Quiet skies are drizzly at their worst, and sunsets age in full grandeur. I see the sun clearly, now dipping halfway below the skyline.

The sky contains the rolling cumulous clouds of summer and the bleak, wispy clouds of winter. Staring at the sun, I can feel the western wind cut across my face. My legs tingle as if smothered in insects, but I know it's too early for that.

I continue onward with the sun now mostly set, and I pass jubilant evergreens, tall like me. A pond nears, and deadened hardwoods tower from its center. From one of the branches, last fall's silkworm nest sways with the breeze.

There's a green glow between the strands of yellow grass. At the water's edge, young trees proudly stand, some adorned with rosy buds. Frogs are everywhere: some chirp, some squeal, some whistle, and some croak.

The shoreline is almost barren. Last year's leaves coat the pond bottom, yet I know fish live there too. On the surface, whirligig beetles twist and play, even as dusk approaches. Beside me, a subtle hum rises from bushes, and I know it's the year's first bee.

A sliver of sun now peeks above the skyline. Now aware of darkness's approach, a flock of blackbirds flies overhead, with some geese following their lead. A crow's cries echo loudly, and then it nears and cries again.

In the sun's final moments, the western trees are a backdrop to dazzling rays. It finally sets, leaving a crimson stain in its wake. A figure glides over nearby hemlocks and lands atop an ancient tree. It's an owl, and it's watching over my Eden.

Darkness now hugs the cerulean horizon, and one last animal wanders wildly: a gnat straddling the chilly breeze. I watch it float by and see the creature and wind become one. They twist together, forever entwined.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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