Posted by: Stefan Anderson | March 10, 2014

Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Morning



~This blog entry is brought to you from the electronic portfolio of CS8 student Nyika Campbell. Conserve School electronic portfolios connect student experiences to the school’s learning goals. Nyika is from Madison, Wisconsin where she attends Madison East High School.~

Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Morning

Conserve School Learning Goal: After successfully completing a Conserve School semester, a student appreciates and experiences the wonder of nature; values fundamental, life-long connections with nature; and expresses those connections in creative ways.

Temp NyikaWhat woods these are I hardly I know.
The trees are tall and watch me though;
They will not mind me stopping here
To watch their woods fill up with snow.

…But the trees do mind. I can feel it, not the the sinister fairy tale maliciousness but a high aloof indifference. This is a landscape of wild, brooding, serenity. Beyond the groomed path where nature has allowed me to trespass the drifted snow piles to my chest. A barrier of a thousand million crystals that couldn’t care less who or what is trying to disturbs them on this glittering morning.

Living always within the carefully groomed and cultivated confines of paths and roads and houses it is easy to believe that nature has been tamed, mastered, corralled into designated areas. And indeed, setting out this morning, skis freshly waxed, following each carefully marked intersection, I too looked on myself as master of this environment. A quick ski, I thought, through the wood, looking on the outing much as one would waking through an art museum: a calculated appreciation of something completely within your control.

As I glide over the trail the crisp air fills my lungs, snow muffling sound into a living silence. The calm of morning erodes, a faint breeze swirling to snatch snow flakes from the trees flinging them skyward like diamonds in the sharp winter sunlight. Watching those tiny bits of frozen ice I begin to realize how enormous the morning is. I am not not going through the wood, I am engulfed by it, merely scratching the surface as I stop by.

Pausing, the trees respond to my presence creaking in a language only the swish of my skis can decipher. Tall trunks, stripped of appendages standing guard over sunlit drifts give a warning: you are a stranger here. You may come and go gawking at our world, but you are the trespasser. We were here long before your birth and will remain long after you are dead. Your shadow and doubled bared trail will leave but the briefest mark on our land.

I subconsciously slow my passage, reveling in the way the snow casts alien shadows, embracing the morning, and the allowance of these hills to my trespassing. Dragging my feet like an unwilling guest I do not want to leave this other world, but neither do I belong to this landscape, free and untrammeled as it is. A woodpecker agrees, echoing the wind that curls against my cheek. Dear, it says, I’m glad you stopped by, it was lovely, but now, you should be getting on your way. You have promises to keep…

The wood are lovely dark and deep,
But you have check in times to keep,
And miles to go before you eat.
And miles to go before you eat.

–(with apologies to Robert Frost)

~Nyika Campbell, Conserve School Semester 8

More snowy woods photos from Conserve School students Nate Martineau and Sarah McCarthy

Conserve School provides a semester-long immersion for high school students in environmental studies and outdoor activities that deepens their love of nature, reinforces their commitment to conservation, and equips them to take meaningful action as environmental stewards. Thanks to the generosity of Conserve School’s friends and its founder James Lowenstine all accepted students receive significant scholarship support.



  1. beautiful writing! I am sure Robert Frost would agree 🙂

  2. That poem runs through my head every time I see photos from Conserve! Nice piece, Nyika!

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