John & Anne Wiley

2011/03/01

Snow Day

Our sweet son-in-law got the day off, and we enjoyed they had opportunity for an uninterrupted day together while we stayed close to the car in case they needed us. Anne baked some brownies, leaving us just half a bar more from the stack of TJ’s 70% Pound Plus we brought. Canada has great milk chocolate, but I haven’t yet tried to find the good dark we prefer so that might happen soon. Anyway, we decided to experience -25C (-13F) with a -35C (-31F) wind chill on a sunset exploration within sight of our neighborhood. Donning our long underwear and two layers of everything, we set out for the river walk near our B&B. Within a quarter mile we were on the edge of the open land, and it reminded me of my years in Smithers, B.C. We’d hike a bit, then pause to look at something. These tracks, for example.

5741 Fresh Tracks

5741 Fresh Tracks

Since it had only recently stopped snowing and blowing, we knew that within the last hour or two some critter(s) had passed this way. Viscerally tactile to see the tiny impressions of delicate toes and make up a story about what had just left a whisper of scent here in passing, what it was, and what it was doing.

5742 High Nest

5742 High Nest

Could it have been the same animal that build this nest 20 feet up in the birches? Was it watching as a noisy old man and his perfect wife plowed their own deep tracks?

5755 Happy Hiker

5755 Happy Hiker

She loves to walk, and my enthusiastic snow bunny added much to the fun of it all. I enjoyed pausing to take in the shapes, colors and textures. The twisted branches of some tortured trees on the edge of a clearing entertained me with their garnish of fresh snow.

5750 Gnarled Bare Birches

5750 Gnarled Bare Birches

As we turned on a loop to take us back toward home from the other side, the lowering sun through the trees cut swaths of shadow and light across the expanse of new snow.

5753 Snow, Shadows, and Light

5753 Snow, Shadows, and Light

I don’t recall any other hike of a mile or so we’ve taken, that felt nearly as far. Maybe because in the back of our minds was how different an experience it would have been if we were in one of those isolated valleys we saw during our flight here. Could be the fact it was cold enough to freeze exposed skin within a few minutes. I like to think it was the rare beauty found in standing at the edge of life as we know it, looking beyond in a moment shared with the perfect companion.

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