As always, I try to take advantage of the snowfall, this year I am visiting a beloved creek. I am accompanied not only by my dog Dharma, but with my partner and a friend, our neighbor, as well. Dharma shows her elation for the frozen white wonder by running joyfully at full speed. She makes us laugh. She is a joy for us to watch.
The snow is drier than we expected, and the wind howls intermittently, blowing loose snow particles into the air as we walk. Occasionally we turn our backs to protect our eyes in the creation of mini blizzard whirl-winds. Despite the snow being dry, it hangs heavy on branches of the towering ponderosas. Some limbs bow so low over our path we have to skirt around them. At one such limb, we shook the branch for curiosity’s sake. With each shake the limb rose higher and higher. Looking skyward, I was taken by a most serene sight — the swaying snow covered tree tops against the cloudy sky. It is pure magic.
Our friend (and neighbor), has been with us before on this hike. But never before on a snowy day like this. He is a good friend. To us, and my dog, who he has taken care of while I’ve been away on certain field jobs. They understand each other pretty well by now. And it helped, that our friend is a sincere dog-lover.
We’re going to miss this friend…
He recently told us that he was moving. That means, this may be our last hike together. At least on this deeply beloved creek. He is a friend who I’ve been so fortunate to discuss my thoughts as I was writing Wild Kinship. He was also the first to read the final manuscript. His thoughts about the book had urged me to get it published as quickly as I could.
Icy snowballs are beginning to accumulate on Dharma’s legs. She wants so badly to continue running full speed, in her zig-zagging exploration. But her legs grow heavy. Periodically we try to break apart the balls with our fingers. Every-time we do so, she takes off in jubilation! …but soon enough they’d begin to reappear. After a while, Dharma gives us cues that we should turn around.
The walk is bittersweet… and beautiful.
In my book I talk about shifting baselines… Snow is high on my list as an endangered natural wonder. My midwestern childhood memories were filled with snowy adventures! Of course, it’s hard to compare southwest winters with those of lake front winters. But still, I adore the winters wonder of snow and take any possible chance to get out and experience what little snow we get.
While heavy snows still occur in various regions, for many, snowy seasons are becoming shorter and shorter. Anyone paying attention to changes in weather patterns can see extreme variations in weather conditions across the entire globe. Places which once had steady seasonal snowy winters and those which rarely received substantial snow are now being threatened by wetter conditions as well as shorter, yet more extreme snow events. This great displacement of weather patterns, no doubt caused by overall warming temperatures is not only causing such extreme outcomes but is shifting our perspective of seasonal normality in real time. It’s astounding to consider what’s happening in our ever-changing world right before our very eyes. But, I am but a mere observer looking in from the outside as I follow the pace of Nature closer to home.
In many moments do I stop to look a my snowy surroundings. Serenity… is the word that comes to my mind. There is a certain kind of peace that a snowy landscape offers to us. During a time when our wild kin of plants and animals enter the state of dormancy, this makes sense. Perhaps it is a reminder for us to follow suite. To recess not into lifelessness but into greater awareness of the unfolding of Nature’s great abundance. For in order for that abundance to be realized, Nature must take time to rest. And so must we…
As we walk back, we all know that the snow we see before us will soon disappear. Maybe in a day or two and so, we are glad to be experiencing it together…
Now it is time to rest.