Sunday, April 14, 2013

Life Gathered Into Her Heart

Considering that we are living at an elevation of over 5000 feet it is always surprising and somewhat disappointing that we don't receive more snow in Cody than we actually do.
We have had a number of ground-covering snowfalls throughout the winter, but (although it often gets cold and windy) temperatures don't stay below freezing for more than a few days at a time before heading north again.
Both LC and I had assumed that living in Cody would mean living in meat locker conditions for a long, dark, extended winter.
The reality of Cody winters is that it gets freezing cold and then the temperature moderates.
A continual, and seemingly never ending cycle of mild, cold and colder.
We have had large fires and small fires burning in our wood stove since early October.
And we are finding out that spring is actually the most unusual of seasons.
A week ago we had four or five unseasonably warm days.  Days filled with non-stop sunshine, clear skies and temperatures in the upper 60's.
This past week we have had snow almost every night.
Some days were warm and the snow disappeared.  Others were so windy and freezing cold that it was almost impossible to stay outside for more than a few minutes.
You can only get battered by icy, gale force winds for so long before you reluctantly decide to call it quits and head for the house and the wood stove.
These pictures were taken on one of those days.
I had not walked Jamie in a couple of days, and like a spoiled and petulant child she moped around the house and then looked for excuses to go outside.
Dogs barking down the road - time to go out.  Have to pee - time to go out.  No........didn't really have to pee.  Yes.....this time had to pee.  No particular reason.........just want to go out.  Have to pee again.
And so out of guilt (and even though the wind was horrendous) I got bundled up in an uncomfortable number of layers, grabbed for my sweet dog's leash and held the storm door as we walked outside together so that the wind wouldn't catch it and slam it violently against the front of the house.
Which has happened more than once..................
It had snowed a little off and on the entire day and as I walked with my dog I was suddenly glad that I had decided to walk her.
I was cold within only a few minutes of being outside, but there is something compelling to me about being outside in ugly weather.  
There is something beautiful about it.
The starkness of the day.  The violence of the weather.  The lack of people or animals.  The silence of a day where any body and any thing that had good sense was hunkering down for the duration.
Yes.........there was an indescribable beauty to it all and I was glad to be out.............
As Jamie did her Jamie things I looked out across the neighbor's pasture and realized that the world had disappeared.
Somewhere........out there beyond the private property..........was BLM land.  Beyond wide open BLM land were endless hills big and small.  
Hills that contained trails and rocks and pine trees and animal killing fields.
All of it had vanished into the fog and thick cloud cover that had completely engulfed the Big Horn Basin.
All summer long LC and I watched narrow bands of rain head towards us, and we often thought that we would get hit with rain.
More often than not those bands circled around us and never made it to Cody.
And so it goes in the winter as well.
We have watched so many wide bands of snow trying valiantly to make it up and over the mountain ranges that surround us.
Sometimes that have done the same thing, and simply circled around us.
If they make it over the mountains we have watched, enthralled, as these same snow bands have dropped down to completely cover the mountains, before marching irrevocably towards us.
To observe the weather fronts in Wyoming is a mesmerizing experience.
With such vastness and openness you can see it all unfolding in front of you..............
The trail leading to BLM land.
The wind had been at my back during the walk along the dirt road from the house, and as soon as we changed direction I could feel the icy whip of the wind on my cheek.
Damn.  It was cold................
Sticking her nose in every sage bush along the way.............
The original plan had been to walk a large loop of trails on BLM land before heading home.
The trail to my right.
I turned left.
As soon as I did I had full on, icy cold wind in my face.
We walked for less than 10 minutes before I pulled my pup back in the direction we had come.
The last thing I needed was frost bite on my bare cheeks.
With the wind to my back again I breathed a little easier and found a reprieve from the unrelenting cold...........
I looked down at Jamie as she walked (as always) worried about the cold and worried about her hips.
The cold never seems to bother my dog and (judging by the amount of hair she sheds) her double coat serves her well in these temperatures.  The cold never seems to bother her.
She was walking fine.  Hips seemed to be holding up.
Jamie was OK.  The wind was at my back.
We were content again to be alone together, outside in the isolation of a barren landscape and bitter weather............
And of course we walked too far.
The entire walk back on BLM land, the entire walk along the trail leading to the road, the entire walk on the road and back to the house had the wind blowing directly at me.
It was freezing cold and miserable, and so was I.
Or rather, I straddled that strange, invisible line between desperate to get home and back into the warmth of the house, and in no hurry to leave the solitude of the outside world.............
Nature looks dead in winter because her life is gathered into her heart.................Hugh Macmillan

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