Unexpected encounter in the winter woods


I ended in my tracks to absorb the scene — the alabaster sheen of the moon, the previous birch, the crusty snow on the bottom. The birch was an excellent 2 ft thick on the base. Its naked and gnarled branches jogged my memory of an previous lady’s palms that had been tortured by arthritis.

The birch stood alone, by some means spared by a current logging operation in my favourite metropolis park. Why the previous birch was left, I can’t determine. I stood there wanting up at it and on the moon cradled amongst its branches. The scene was stark, and the northwest wind buffeting me solely added to the coldness of the scene.

That is what occurs once we depart behind the heat and luxury of our winter lairs and get on the market. We uncover issues. Typically the issues we uncover are proper in entrance of us, just like the birch and the moonglow. Typically, they’re inside us — one thing we had forgotten or meant to do, or one thing that had by no means occurred to us earlier than.

I assumed I knew why I might been going on the market all these years. I assumed it was for the train. I assumed it will be good to boost my coronary heart price for some time in an effort to decrease it for the opposite 23 hours of the day. That has been cause sufficient to get out the door, to say nothing of being accompanied by a yellow canine on many of those jaunts.

However what I’ve come to lea rn over all these years is that on nearly all of those outings, I discover one thing else that ranges from fascinating to marvelous. Almost all of those serendipitous discoveries contain some intimate facet of the pure world. And almost all the time, just like the previous lady’s fingers clawing on the night time sky this week, they arrive as a complete shock.

The utterly pure but all the time sudden occasions I’ve stumbled upon embrace:

• A whitetail buck, an enormous ol’ boy, crossing a cattail swamp at daybreak, his big set of antlers backlit by the solar, his exhalations showing as clouds of condensation.

• The deep, resonant calls of a terrific horned owl within the night time.

• A gaggle of robins voraciously feeding on the orange berries of a mountain ash tree at dawn.

• A pine marten scurrying up a purple pine.

• Canada geese on ultimate strategy to a small pond, doing their loopy aspect-slipping flight to spill air from their wings earlier than touchdown.

• An early spring hillside lush with leeks towards the winter brown.

• A black bear, Pooh-like, munching grass.

• Wind-sculpted snow hardened into intricate patterns atop lake ice. The Inuit name it “sastrugi.”

One night time, strolling a path by headlamp on a excessive…



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