At my latitude a February sun doesn’t have the height to rise above these trees and shine on my face, full and wintery-warm. But in this clearing I’m reached by serrated rays that bend around each leafless aspen branch, and, flooding back together and spreading like a delta, I’m sun-washed; and I’m without a thought—except for sun thoughts.

Is it an odd thing to know nothing but the sun and you, and the poplars and the snow around your ankles? Is is an odd thing to come to know you belong to the sun?

The hiking shoes I stand in are made of leather. They are black from ash and age and cracked from many seasons of wet and dry wear. In the past ten years I’ve waxed them only twice. They have missed eight of my vowed annual waxings. A vow that enabled me to buy them but a promise I obviously took lightly.

This afternoon the temperature has moved close to the point of thawing. Once again my feet are wet from tromping through heavy snow. For example, from slogging through knee-deep snow following a moose track that ran some yards east of a snow-angel made by Deb because she wanted to look at the sky without craning. But my feet are warm because of the properties of wool, in this case heavy brown-grey wool socks that run to mid-calf and make me look somewhat Scandinavian. My feet are wet and warm. I could stand here for another two hours before seeking the woodstove.

Is it an odd thing to feel the melting snow lay slow claim to your feet and cleave your desire and move you out of the sun?

As I walked to the cabin for warmth, squirrel appeared; or rather, chattered at me from mottled cottonwood cover. I caught the barest glimpse. A movement quick as a brush stroke and then gone. Almost imagined. Squirrel takes cover as needed. My other theory is that squirrel has a taste for teasing. It’s an odd thing. A live warm body beneath a shed among flakes of pine cone, now asleep, and now propelled by blast-furnace energy to commit sporadic chicanery. But I count on squirrel; I’m both released and owned by squirrel.

Release is sweet. I imagine myself sometimes on my back in a field of grass looking at clouds without having to crane my neck. And sometimes I’m led to a memory: I’m on the edge of a field of summerfallow. I’m making grass-angels in quack grass. The Cockshutt 1550 is droning behind a hill and the 14 foot International cultivator is standing behind with its feet in the earth, idle and relieved. And me, I’m just one more adventitious blade moving out of one more rhizome belonging to one more ineffable web of movement. Being owned is sweet.

Is it an odd thing to lay awake hours later, listening to noises in the alley, a dumpster lid crashing down in the funnelled wind, lifted again; a can, a bottle, discovered in the embarrassment of trash and born away in a wire cart through blowing snow, through the drifts that stall small rubber wheels?

It seems oddly funny that moments later in morning’s half-light I read a millennial old poem with this line: “Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped.”

Is it odd to think these thoughts, and write this in the thin-dry warmth of a shop that uses a fine Greek myth to sell me coffee?


  1. Odd indeed…

    It is odd that I can read your words and find myself at the cabin, ankles in the snow and sun on my face, with squirrel chatter in my ear and love for the world welling up in my soul.

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