Monday, January 14, 2013

moose and hawk

we have been hit by a snowstorm.
not just any snowstorm, but one of the largest to hit our city in years.
temperatures plummeted to single digits and below, and icy snow now coats trees, yards, cars, streets, and--sigh--yes, bike lanes.  daytime temps are hovering in the mid-teens this week, and it's hard to imagine ever riding a bike outside again.

the storm moved in last thursday afternoon, dumping snowflakes by the billions (or possibly gazillions) throughout the next day and a half.  by midday saturday the clouds parted and the sun's rays dazzled us once again.  wrapped in more layers than I could count, I drove to spin class that afternoon, my eyes drawn to the northeastern foothills which were thickly white and bisected again and again by slender tracks made by people who braved the cold to make first tracks.  I felt pangs of envy.

so on sunday I placed my snowshoes in the mini's boot and headed up the canyon to little dell reservoir, where I parked my car (no, not actually in the reservoir), strapped on my showshoes, and headed up the road toward big mountain.  I needed air.  I needed blue skies.  I needed to reconnect with the place I've spent so very many hours pedaling up and down the road, the place of solitude and peace and serenity.
it was nine degrees but I was soon sweating as I plodded up the road, smiling at the decorative patterns  miniature snowballs had left as they tumbled down the hillsides.  I passed the occasional skier, exchanging hellos and wondering if my cheeks and nose were as red as theirs.  I kept to the thicker snow at the edges of the road, crossing over from side to side to avoid trampling on ski tracks.

almost two miles up I paused to inspect a set of delicate tracks in the otherwise untouched snow to the left of the road.  rabbit, I decided, the front two larger, the rear two smaller and almost atop one another.    smiling, I lifted a foot to begin again my trek, and made eye contact with the moose standing ten yards away, munching on the tops of slender deciduous shrubs, now winter bare.  she looked at me; I looked at her.  she ate; I smiled.  she chomped and chewed, she moved to another bush, she looked at me again.  a pounding sound echoed from above on the hill---a woodpecker?  a snowshoer or skier building some kind of resting spot?---and neither the moose nor I cared.  she gave me one last look then turned away, lifting each leg high to clear the snow, lowering her head to search for the next mouthful, and I started back up the road.

not too much further I decided I'd better turn around, and as I neared the spot where we'd exchanged looks I searched for my moose.  no longer eating, she was lying on the snow in the hollow, her dark body blending with the naked scrub oak and aspen, the red twigs of dogwood, the deep brown shoots she'd been munching.  she looked out upon the road, and steadily gazed as I plowed back down the road.  fifteen minutes of steady plodding later, a hawk flew above my head, its regal wings spread wide and alternating between gentle flaps and moments of pure soaring.

I got my fix.
although I miss the cycling, I appreciate the enforced change, the message from the universe to explore the world differently for a little while.  to see things from a different---and slower---perspective, to be open to another experience.  to see rabbit tracks and dining moose and winter hawks.  to let things be dormant, to let other things hibernate, to let nature's cycles do their work.  and to know that eventually the snow will melt its way off my road and let me once again visit the world I love in the way I love to do it.  

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