In Other Times

When I began writing in this format in 2005, I tended to be very descriptive of the outdoors…my river hiking and observations of nature.  I realize that sometimes it may seem that my recent life is all about music and arts events.  The truth is,  my life is that thing that weaves those events and others together.

In keeping with some of my new thoughts on happiness, after a big outdoor hike with Max following a teaching day, I felt most like being warm (love these cozy socks my cousin gave me!) and relaxing.  In this city, we can tend to be on those roads too much.  Being wrapped in my fuzzy housecoat feels exactly right.

There have been some truly amazing moments shared with Max these past couple of days.  Around the perimeter of the pond, it seems that there is a whole world of discovery to be made.  Each set of animal tracks carries its own narrative and given the depth and the weight of the snow, these narratives are even more clearly communicated.

A variety of tracks make their way to what, a week ago, was a dark circle of open water, but has now shrunk to almost-nothing.  Still, there is evidence that the muskrats, birds and coyotes have visited, in hopes of hydrating.  On the wide white expanse of frozen water, now blanketed in eighteen centimeters of fresh snow, there are several narratives, the most interesting being the collision of predator and prey at the center.  It is an unbelievable thing when the temperatures are plummeting to -24 degrees, to see that animals are continuing to struggle against the elements and also fighting to find both sources of food and water.

Early in the week, a coyote stood bravely on the neighbouring train tracks, observing two magpies pecking, determined, upon a carcass.  I was interested in why it did not advance, but patiently and almost regally, waited.  As Max dug for and returned to me with a heavy chunk of tree branch, I claimed it, deciding that from this day onward, I will carry the club with me, having watched coyotes in close proximity for the last couple of weeks.  As light is disappearing from day and I am walking alone, with only the repetitious sound of footsteps and breath, I sometimes feel strangely ‘watched’.  This new tool should give me some assurance of defense if needed.

As I neared the east end of the pond, I watched a bald eagle circle three time, its powerful wings carrying it gracefully through the icy cold air.  I stopped and took pause, making certain of my identification of this noble looking bird.  He headed directly south over 22X and slowly disappeared into the distance, leaving his mate sitting in one of the top branches of a very dark elm tree.  I spent time, knee deep in a snow bank, watching her and her watching me…her head rotating to look again and again at the traffic circling off of Macleod Trail, east onto 22X.  Eventually, she tired of me or Max or both of us, and lifted off, flying in the same direction as her friend.  Stepping out of the snow, I realized that my eyelashes were crystalline…I realized that I had been crying.

There isn’t a day when I am not grateful for the beauty of the natural spaces that I journey with my pooch…whether it is at the river’s edge, across the bridge and deep into Fish Creek Park or at the pond.  Each season offers a difference in the experience of plant life, birds, mammals and wee critters at the water’s edge.  I am blessed by all of these experiences that seem to weave in and out of my life and tie my life experiences to my spirit.

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