Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Day of Beautiful Things

This was a day of beautiful things.

Bald Eagle. Cropped from CC-NC-SA licensed photo by Doug Brown.

A pair of bald eagles flew slow and heavy by the road, huge black wings arcing up and down, their tips curving as they swept traces through the air. One landed on a tree, looking out regal and impassive as I stopped the car to gape. Each is bigger than a large cat, with bright shocks of white on head and tail and that sharp yellow beak, curved and deadly.

We two humans, my daughter and I, traced our own paths, ski tracks joining thousands of others in the snow. It was a bluebird day, our forays up and down the mountain taking place above the mat of low cloud that has stubbornly enshrouded the valleys for much of this winter. From a mile high, the hills below us seemed as islands in a vast lake of unsettled white water. But up here, at least, we got to see the sun, and the fine sharp edges it put on the trees.

Several times I had to stop and take it all in. I watched mute and helpless before the grandeur of an earth spread out below me under a dark blue dome, all shades of white dotted with the dark tints of forests, pine needles and gnarled trunks framing the foreground. Sure is pretty, a woman commented as she skied by—whether talking to me, herself, her son, or the universe—I don’t know or care. Yes, it was.

Eventually, as it always does, the sun went down, the lumps in the snow casting shadows. The air cooled, the sky darkened. The last run was over subdued and well-worn terrain, down through layers of pine scent. I will not spend my life in a city, I vowed.

Colville River Valley  [Flickr page]

On the way home, below the cloud layer now, it was dark blue with gathering dusk. Red taillights lit a procession along the length of the highway, a bright and somehow reassuring human contrast to nature turning down the lights for the night. These people were like me, going home.

And just before reaching home, two speckled white horses loped alongside us, riderless. Movement for the sheer animal joy of it, as we had done all day.

—First posted on Facebook (here slightly edited), 2/2/13