It’s time to get out and chase the snow.
Tag Archives: winter
quick, she says
“Quick”, she growls quietly. “what’s that?!” I walk to the window with her and we in the quiet light of dawn watch a bushy tailed fox dance a loop in the snow in front of us. Noel, my dog, has never seen a fox before. A beautiful moment to watch. And then as quick as she came she runs across the bridge and up the trail in front of us. Good morning!
The forecast stated rain this morning. I was just hoping it was wrong. Dressed for a hike I headed out of the canyon where I live to more reliable weather. But the rain was already there. I turned back toward home as the rain followed slowly behind. Across the bridge with the creek raging snow melt below, past the arcs of snow that remain in the yard. Tennis balls lost in the snow to Noel over winter are emerging like little bright green treasures. We find a few and I throw them to her while watching the heavy sky above move closer to my head.
I have learned this past winter that wind can be fierce in the canyon. We had some nights that I even wanted to crawl into the closet in the basement. The large Douglas fir trees and others that surround the house are close to 100 feet tall. I took stock of them last fall after I lost the top of one of them that lives so close to my house. Immense and powerful. The steep hill behind my house is all forest with heavy underbrush and I realized as the snow began to melt and I was spending more time outside that one of these great trees had fallen behind the house. Seems like a good time to explore the tree and experience just how big it was.
It had twisted and broke during one of the storms and the stump that remained was taller than me. I can see as I get closer that it had split and twisted vertically in two locations. The base was so large its difficult to imagine it giving way to the wind. But there it lay long and broken down the hillside pointed toward my house. I paid homage, I feel its bark, its skin, and appreciate the needles that remain green on the trunk that now lays on the ground. Heading back down the hill I follow the narrow deer paths that lead to one of the largest trees at the bottom. Exposed roots make me wonder how long it will live against the wind. This spot, behind the tree, has some collected garbage, things that must have come from the neighbors trash. And now I realize why this spot always felt a bit spooky to me in the dark of the winter night. Teeth holes in the plastic milk carton tell me something has been there. Something large – an animal – I heard moving up there this winter – has spent more than a passing moment at that tree. This tree has had a long life, including the 2x4s that remain nailed into it’t trunk.
I look out at the forest. The rain has arrived and falls like a morning in the Northwest. Light but constant. My hike will wait for now. I will wait, and instead watch the male robin who has been sitting on the deck railing for the past few days expressing his dominance to the reflection in the glass window that separates me from him.
How’s your internet working ? Ok? Speed fast enough? Reliable? Ever quit working on you when you need it? And when it stops working you make that call to your “provider” and wait. Wait. Wait and listen to whatever recording they have decided is going to assist your patience. You wait longer. I know this drill, too.
But where I live, not in an apartment, not in a city. Not in that place where your only option for getting your internet back on line is to call the one eight hundred number. I live in that place where getting your internet back online involves a broom, winter coat and boots, and a tall ladder. Grasping broom in hand I climb the ladder to the top and sweep off the snow that covers the satellite dish , and then wipe the snow off the little reflector for the dish. Reset! Ta-da ! Back down the ladder and inside to stream more music and watch the fire dancing around inside the firebox. Big, big snow falling from the sky . Night coming. Color from pink to blue to white. Witnessing what is most likely the last big collection of snow for the year.
Yesterday was a cold day. We have them from time to time. The days we measure below zero. Twenty-five below zero, for instance. But yesterday the cold was different because the wind was ruling. Whipping across the open fields and funneling down Main Street. A day that makes you realize how small, vulnerable, un-furry we humans are. And maybe for some, that is me, acting with disregard toward the reality of blowing cold wind and snow.
But you see, I got the wrong bird seed the day before. And with all the trees without leaves , and snow covering all the earth around me, I’m sympathizing with the little birds who are also experiencing the bitter cold and wind. I’ve seen them before on the trails in the forest. Dead from the quick cold.
I’m not a bird expert. But I know they are here with me in the woods. The first seed I brought was for finch. Evidently there are no Finch in the forest around me right now. Back to the hardware store for more seed I chose the custom “mountain mix” thinking, that’s where I live. The mountains.
Back home. Changed out the seed. Rehang the feeders. It’s negative ten with wind blowing. But no birds came. I was not surprised . I went to sleep last night wondering what change in weather would bring the birds off their branches to the feeder.
This morning was warmer. By 7 am it was negative two and the sun could be sensed through the low cloud cover. One brave little bird flies across the open yard from woods to seed. Wings warm enough to fly. Then a few more . They are Chickadees. A little sunshine and they sing, they come. Many now. Back and forth with little seeds in their mouths from perch to branch. They land on my window sill. They are calling me to come outside.
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.
Coming of the Solstice
These are the quiet days of snow. Light emerges from the horizon changing the tone of the sky. The darkness of the world outside begins to take the shape of woods. Last night’s snow has filled in all the past memories. Paths are gone. Footsteps erased. Branches laced with white move in and out of the coming morning.
We are in the days of half-light. Planning is required for movement to coincide with the daylight. This is the season we are provided to look inside ourselves and outside ourselves at the same time. Contemplation corresponding to the briefness of light. Measuring actions, worth and beliefs. Slowing our movement, sitting still for moments to wonder about what is next to come. Like children with their noses to the window when it rains in the summer, with the lengthy darkness we are given the time to consider our futures and the world we want to live in.
It is no wonder to me why the Ancient European Pagans would have ritualized this time for remembering the past year, and thinking and planning for the next. Their health, success, and longevity depended on their ability to link past actions and events with the future they wanted to live. Honoring the gods, the Earth, reckoning lives. Burning the Yule Log (known in many other names), the densest log available, marked the transition from darkness to light, and the transition to longer days.
Let us all find the path in the snow in the early dawn that will bring us joy, keep us safe, and bring us peace in the coming season of light.
It’s winter here in Montana. Drama in the sky. Snow falls and everyone moves into action, building a fire or digging out their skis.
For me, I have a break from teaching Remote Studio. I’m settling into Bozeman. Really , a new hometown for me after leaving Livingston and moving between Jackson Hole and Louisiana last year.
For 2013, after a 2 month disconnection by blog.com, I am back to posting. If you follow me, you will also notice the categories of the blog have expanded to include my paintings and other work.
Stay tuned …..