“After a while, I came to a clearing and stopped to catch my breath. Here, no light from the moon penetrated the canopy of trees, and the darkness was thick, throbbing, the stillness complete. I could hear my heart, the far away rhythm of a primal drumbeat, and my breath, like the rushing sound of water…flowing, receding. As my eyes slowly adjusted, shapes materialized out of the blackness. The silhouettes of stately conifers, silent guardians of nature; smaller mounds of underbrush, a fallen tree trunk. And scattered over it all, streaks and spots of snow, like an outcrop of white mushrooms. Something scurried across the ground, and I squealed, heart pounding, body tingling with heightened awareness. Then I laughed softly. It was just a small animal, maybe a mouse. And I slowly became aware of other sounds: low hooting, hissing, snapping, rustling…the forest spoke, swelling and pulsing with life. I closed my eyes and listened. And felt as though I were melting into something vast and endless. What on earth was happening to me? I felt fanciful, starry-eyed, like the sort of female I had always looked down upon. Under some sort of spell. The spell of Owl Manor, a place where reason fled in the wake of delirium.
Then an icy breeze touched my cheeks.”