Now, when the first snow flies, the leavings of summer I find earlier in my field journal warms my skin and me reminds me of the linkage between the seasons. Winter–summer: different positions on the same orbit. It’s a thought hard to hold as the the wind blows hard against the house and big snowflakes fall. I think so often of my field journal as the tool that allows me to explore the present. Today I am reminded how it can also bring the past forward: a week removed from normal time, surrounded by family, on the north end of Okanagan Lake. This valley is terrain I shared with my sister and brother in our childhood and it feels right to be back here with my siblings and our extended families. Over the course of a week we make time for beachside reading, bird walks along field margins, and a uphill climb through the wetter forest leading up to Mt. Rose and Mt. Swanson. It’s a landscape I know better in memory than in current time, but the view from the Mt. Swanson has surprisingly pull–even now more than 35 years after I once called this valley home.
The fall of Short Creek, cascading down over steep rock is rivaled only by the incline of the wooden steps climbing its height. What a surprise to find crossbills and pine siskins gleaning insects from the watery seeps lining the cliff face. It’s not until I read my notes from our last climb that I remember how hot our visit here was with last summer’s record breaking heat. In summer I wished for the chill of winter; as winter descends, I long for hot August. Is this what I do? Wish away my ability to revel in the present?