There is a story to go with that picture. Of course there is; every picture has a story. But I didn't want to break in on the silence; the sound of my voice might bring the soft clumps of snow down off the branches of the trees, shattering the stillness of the day.
This scene should not have been silent. After all, I was there taking the picture, and I was accompanied by two large dogs, two rambunctious children, and two lime-green bat-shaped sleds. Where was everyone? Had someone taken the bat-sled down the hill at such speed they slipped out of this reality and into another?
It really was suspiciously quiet. I thought I'd better investigate.
I made my way to the bottom of the hill, where I could hear the children's voices coming softly, faintly, out of the trees. They were somewhere off to the left. Rather than shatter the surreal quality of the moment by calling out, I decided to follow their tracks.
I followed them for some time, weaving in and out of the trees, sometimes turning abruptly and heading in a new direction entirely. Twice, I lost their trail, confused by the network of dog tracks that were intertangled with everything: snow, bushes, trees, branches, footprints.
Their voices had grown fainter, and seemed to be fading away. Growing concerned, I called to them. A reply came from somewhere ahead and slightly to the left of me; I made a bee-line for the sound, and there they were. Where? They had no idea where they were, or what direction to go in to find the trail. Their story was like this: the little one had started following dog tracks into the woods, and the bigger one had decided to follow her. Without letting me know first. It was their first woodsy adventure on their own, and they hadn't even thought of the possibility of getting lost.
Reunited, we headed straight for the nearest trail. The older one, the cautious one, declared he would stick to the trail from now on. But the little one wanted to head right back out there. She hasn't lost her taste for exploring.