[Okay, so it’s Teaser Thursday and I’m late! But it’s been a bit of a week.]
After the first good snowfall of the season, I ski back out to the place I’ve learned to call ‘Botany Pond.’ Deep snow is winter’s prism, transforming one species’ risk into another’s opportunity. Entranced by crystals of hoar frost on aspen and the lean exclamation of weaselltracks, I think about how some stories can only be learned in certain seasons. In the impressionable canvas of fresh snow, drama can run quiet or wild. Prints of miniscule mice barely indent; snowshoe hare float this way and then that. And then I ski across the tracks of what I think might be a wolf or a lynx. Alone, without my dog, hobbled by snow, I panic. Even as I flee to the security of an open vista, familiarity haunts my tracks. Risk, I remember, always lurks beneath winter’s white. As a child, winter diminished woodpiles, froze pipes and stuck trucks in snow. Snapshots from a single season never tell the whole story. Embedded in today’s bitterness are the ecological processes—seeds chill, moisture collects—necessary for tomorrow’s unfolding. Only by lingering in place can we remember that winter and summer, opportunity and risk, are always conjoined.
View from bluff at Ellison Provincial Park, Vernon BC
Wet slushy snow all over the roads as I bicycled home tonight. In January, memories of summer vistas seem all the more precious and I look back through my journal until I find the sketch done while Maggie and I were camping with friends. Calm mornings that Maggie and I spent reading and drawing up on the bluff. Empty cheerio bowls forgotten under our camp chairs while hot tea and chocolate kept the brisk morning air at bay. In the midst of January, when the light is only beginning to return from the full dark of the solstice, the sketch is a missive from warmer times.
It takes me two weeks of ski lessons to capture this view at Stake Lake. While Maggie is engaged in kicking and gliding, I ski “like stink” to get to the same vantage point each week. The first Saturday I manage only the ink outline and the second Saturday gives me the luxury to fill in some of the colours, before hurrying off to find Maggie at the end of the lesson.
Journal Entry January 19 2011
The business of the new semester catches me by surprise and I am grateful for those moments that cast me out of academia and back into the land of the breathing, pulsing natural world. A day is book ended by moments I am grateful for–the startling flash of waxwings lifting off the rowan tree outside my building and flying directly over my nose as I straddle my bike and then the luminescent globe of the full moon rising up over the darkened flank of Mt Paul.