Friday, October 29, 2010

October 29

& now the snow, falling in a frenzy through the night & dissipating into slow, meandering flakes now, turning in the discernible breeze against the languid grey of the sky. Enough that it clusters & holds in odd patterns about the burls in the birches, or tendrils out along the spruce-boughs to where they cluster in cone. & that smell it brings, a kind of metallic, airy cleanliness borne aloft in the fine gusts. & now we watch it & gauge its accumulation & look at the dogs & beyond at the gaping miles of wild untended & we wait for it to hurry along.

I’ve decided to document this first year of trying to learn how to mush. It seems too singular an enthusiasm to disperse among the rest, or maybe too dominant a one to let determine the general hue of things. I have this for you, my four beloved readers:

Or I have it for myself, in any case. There is little there just yet, but over time, I hope it proves one of the instructive artifacts of a past recalled. Or some sounding board for the present clamor in me, anyway.

& otherwise, little else, but thinking mostly how curious to live a life that I so routinely interrupt with effusions of unprovoked gratitude.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

October 14

Winter like a fledgling, the first tenuous flakes of snow sheening us here, the first intimations of real chill. & already, those last vestiges of autumn covered over, subsumed in the gloaming. Winterlight. Winterdusk. Winterdawn. They are their own things entire, & inexplicably, profoundly beautiful up here.

& an odd time for me personally, stepping into the season that so drastically came to alter me last year. I feel the visceral memory in me yet, the quiet, the patience. & then look up to see my heart content this time around, joyful, present. All of those months last year when in the yawning silence it was only my own feeble whisper I could hear. & startled, then, at the sound of it, the little, fragile thing. A bird’s tiny bone. I think on what endures, on what is yet extant from that long season, & suppose what remains somehow sacred & central. From that beehive that murmured once & then fell resoundingly quiet, the small flame at the center batting off shadow. A me in me to recognize, to foster as a familiar. How curious, this life. How curious that I am here, here at all.

My life, whatever it will entail, will owe a debt to last winter’s sea changes. Pupil before a loneliness & a kenning heartache, I learned in a winter what I could not the lifetime prior, & my gratitude for it is ineffable. So slowed, attenuated to something dear. Well, to the snow, then.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

October 2

There was a run I did last year along the rim of three lakes during which a golden eagle flew directly over my head the entire time. He never forged ahead or lagged behind, & when I would stop to regard him he would perch on the bough of a spruce & regard me back & then wing along when I would run again.

& last winter it happened several times that along my runs in the snow I’d properly packed I would stop short twenty feet from a wolf, & we would stand there for a moment & look at one another, eye to yellow eye, & then we would continue along, the wolf into the copse of willow, & I along my path.

One of those winter runs I heard a plaintive bleating from across the way & looked in time to see three wolves bringing down a young caribou. I saw their dark forms silhouetted there against the pale snow in the hushed light of the morning, just inside the tree line, writhing in a violent torsion.

& I have come upon grizzlies that were magnanimous or apathetic or scared shitless, any one. Twenty feet from a full adult who didn’t care at all that I was that close. & then two hundred feet away from a sub-adult who sprinted down a mountain to avoid me.

I read that when a crow electrocuted itself on a power line in Fairbanks & its lifeless body fell to the earth below, it was a matter of minutes before hundreds of other crows gathered around & seemed to literally observe a minute of funereal silence prior to again dispersing to the four winds. All of them encircling that one expired bird, a kind of quiet black cloud. I’ve heard magpies are the same way. That they mourn. A behavior characteristic of the corvidae.

The wolf researcher up here who died last year wrote a bit about how wolves reacted to grief. He observed several members of a lupine family walk off into solitude after a pack member’s death in order to pine & keen independently overnight before returning to the others. They had no other occasion to isolate themselves in that heartbreak before or after.

Earlier this year, during the first intimations of spring, I had a dream that I came upon seven owls hovering over a dwarf alder, luminescent, emanating a warm light. When I awakened in the morning I stepped outside & where I stood, an owl looked down at me from the tree above & let out a gentle hoot. How I felt the spine in me.

& then dogs, always dogs, in their honest joy.

Maybe just to say the nature of these things takes over in time, supplanting another kind of human reason, & how grateful I am for that most days. I know so much about a world that doesn’t exist, not really, & so little about the one that does. It’s been a slow education.