And perfect it was. Once we rounded the bend and left the highway behind us, the only sounds were the crunch of our shoes, the creaking of our poles as we moved. The moon gleamed on the snow, the only light we needed except in those dark shadows between trees where the beams could not reach. Though the path we traveled was well-packed, evidence of the many who had gone before us, it seemed we were the only people left in the world.
At one point, we left the path and forged our own through the virgin snow, pushing up to reach a small ridge which offered a view of the way we had come. We shared a thermos of hot chocolate and the last of the Christmas shortbread, and together, we looked out at the world before us; snow crystals catching glints of moonlight, a handful of stars twinkling down at us, trees tall and silent in the darkness.
It was beautiful, and silent, and calm. And despite the turmoil of the past few months, despite the pain and sorrow and ugliness in this world, despite the uncertainty tomorrow holds, I was reminded of the loveliness surrounding me, of the joy there is in living, of the small moments that matter. I leaned back in Jonathan's arms and was at peace.
I can't think of a better way to say farewell to one year and to welcome the next.