Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I like winter. When I tell people this, most look at me like I've got lobsters coming out of my ears. But I really do like winter, like it more than summer even. No bugs, no stifling heat, no suffocating humidity. My take on the cold is that I can put enough on--and stay active enough--to stay warm, but there are days in the summer when I cannot take enough off to beat the heat. At least not legally.

The thing I like the most about winter is the quiet. Quiet is something I crave--it's one of the things I was looking for when we moved from the city to the country. It's not as quiet here as I would like, kind of a lot of road noise, but it's better than having a bus stop in our front yard. But the silences of winter are calming and rejuvenating. I can step outside and hear the wind, the birds, the crunch of my dog's footsteps in the snow, without the competition of lawnmowers and cars and buses. I can imagine for a moment that I am in the wilderness, that there is only me and the trees and the sun on my back.

I went out today for a short walk down to the marsh that is behind our property. The snow is deep, deep anyway for southeast Michigan, 15 inches or so. Even with my snowshoes the walk is strenuous--and of course I am out of shape from too few walks this winter. I walk the pipeline easement that separates our property from our neighbors, and it is gently rolling and wooded on either side. I spot a disturbance in the snow, one without tracks anywhere near it, fresh-looking with crisp edges, and decide it must have been from a hawk chasing prey. Not more than 20 seconds later a cooper's hawk flies out of our neighbor's woods, passes right in front of me and into our woods with a little grey bundle in its talons. Could this be my bird? Quite possibly. Later, as I stand on top of a small rise catching my breath, I watch a young red-tail hawk circling overhead. It is so clear and dry, and the sun is full on it, that I can see it turning it's head this way and that, looking for prey. Hawks represent vision and I wonder, as I head for home with the sun warm on my face, what exactly it is that I am supposed to see.

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