between here and there

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winter breath


This morning it is perfectly still outside. Looking out my living room window into the trees and mountains rising up beyond the sun is shining on the distant ridge. The world is so still out there it truly looks like a post card. Snow covering the ground, layered on the branches of trees. And that beautiful sunshine creeping up the canyon. It is also twenty-three below zero outside. No surprise no one is at the trailhead across the road. I’m waiting, not only for the severe cold to leave, but for the sickness that invaded my body two weeks ago to leave. Most of the time when I am sick it is some sort of sinus, running nose thing. I usually push through these viruses and ailments regardless of the winter season. I still hike and ski despite a little head cold. But this time was different, and if I could plan, I would plan to never be sick like this again. It has really cramped my style, shut me down. I thought I had it beat. But then I needed to travel to Fargo North Dakota to recruit. It wasn’t Fargo that did me in, I think it was the stress from traveling, combined with the cold. But there it was, seven below zero in Fargo and my lungs just couldn’t take the stress any more. Despite a complete minimization of social time on my trip I continued to get worse. Head felt like it was going to explode, sick to my stomach, and lungs that were coughing up knarly sounds, only light breaths. When I finally made it home to Bozeman I visited my favorite Urgent Care clinic, because, like most of us today, I don’t have a primary care physician….I did not have pneumonia, they said. Simply a sinus and lung infection. A round of antibiotics and I should feel better. On the second night of my antibiotics I was floating across the floor on unsteady feet. That feeling when you are so sick you are out of your body. Not a happy making experience. But now, on day five, my feet are on the ground. My lungs are almost working normal again. But not normal enough to go outside and hike or ski. And this is why I am sitting here writing. Being so sick we cannot behave in our normal behavior is having days of a life taken away. I look outside at the beautiful snow, I look through the fly-fishing magazine in my lap. I look at the rivers and creeks and rising mountains on the pages and am reminded of what I love to do in life. I love being outside. I love feeling the world. I’m looking at the page open, and the little wooden skiff someone sailed up stream in, and dreaming….I would love to do this; that little boat and me. I wonder how long it would take to learn how to move a boat like that along a river’s shore. I sit back in my chair. I look at the snow outside. The slice of bright white sunlight that is now cutting along the blue, snow covered canyon floor in front of my house.  I practice taking a few deep breaths, I test my lungs. Not quite ready yet. Not full breaths yet. I practice pranayama, the deep breath of life. Connecting with the life force. Deeper and deeper each day. Waiting for the temperatures to rise outside, feeling today and making ready for tomorrow.