I wake to the startling sound of something crashing through the jumbled dead leaves and detritus on the forest floor, I open my sleepy eyes to early morning mist with water drooping from the trees. Groggily I think “that was something big”, so I sit up to see out into the blue morning dusk. Ten feet away is a mythical moose! This is the first time I have every seen a moose, so I have been calling them, mythical for many years. He is a young male with tiny antlers just appearing, thin, muscular, and all legs. He stands taller than me, but I believe he is small for a full grown moose. He is twitchy and nervous, he knows I am there, but isn’t sure what to make of me. I watch transfixed, mesmerized, excited, all sleep immediately gone from my fascinated brain. I watch him for many long minutes, hardly daring to breath. He eventually calms when no immediate danger presents itself, and he walk a little away, turns to look at me through the tent screen, takes a few more steps. He is silhouetted in a small clearing, his dark shape outlined by a brighter area of forest. After a few more steps, he has passed out of sight in the misty blue half light of predawn. I have seen a moose! Later when I actually get up, there are moose prints next to the tent platform where he was walking under the tarp when he startled and jumped into the dead leaves that woke me up. How many times has he passed this way before?
This morning, I got up early with the sun, went over to a nearby state park and put my kayak in the water. Warm yellow sunlight pouring in from the eastern horizon, flowing out overt the lake like liquid happiness. I paddled quietly around the shoreline to see what I could see in the quiet morning stillness. Large catfish with swishing tails, rooting through dead tree branches in the shallows, large algae covered turtles swimming lazily near the surface, birds flitting between trees twittering morning greetings to each other, green and red lily pads and bright happy water lilies, the smell of campfire smoke drifting on unseen air currents from early risers in the camp ground, and then a family of mallard ducks. Mamma duck proud and watchful paddling slowly along the shore with seven little fluffy yellowish brown baby ducks paddling their tiny webbed feet furiously to keep up. I kept a respectful distance so as not to frighten the little family, but watched them paddle and feed for quite q while. Mamma kept her eye on the the whole time, but didn’t try to chase my off. Baby ducklings peeping for attention and mamma duck keeping them moving down the lake shore, learning how to be good little ducks.
I woke up too early, listening to the rapid roar in the twilight. Climbed out of my, no so gracefully, to go pee, the woods were misty and mysterious in the half light of predawn. Afterwards I lay awake wish I could go back to sleep as the light grew steadily brighter. Giving up, I took my sleeping bag with this time and went down to the beach to lay in a raft between the thwarts on top of some fife jackets. This position had me cradled and rocking in the calm eddy with the rapid surging by just feet away. Curled inside my cozy blanket, I peeked out and saw a large sparkling bright blue white star just above the ridge where the sun was still hidden but obviously on its way to light the day in dazzling sunlight. I rarely get to see the morning star. Where I live, the eastern horizon is hidden behind the forest behind the house, so although we can see the sun through the trees when is rises, there is no way to see the morning star. I feel blessed and fall back top sleep for a greatly appreciated two more hours.
Woke up gently his morning, looked out the window into the half light. It was snowing, just started, small flakes falling straight down, barely beginning to cover the dead brown leaves on the forest floor. I stayed in bed watching the snow fall and the ground turn more white as the snow accumulated. Peaceful and beautiful.
Later, I went outside to feed the birds. The stairs were blanketed in a pure, fresh coating of snow maybe half an inch think, individual crystalline flakes catching and refracting the filtered, grey morning sunlight. The two bottom steps and the flagstone below had bird prints on them. Tiny, perfect, delicate, imprints of Chick-a-Dee’s and Junco’s feet, 3 miniature toes and claws, two feet, all in straight lines as they hopped around looking for seeds. How do they keep from freezing? My toes turn blue just thinking about running barefoot through the snow (although I do exactly that at least once a year, just to put my own foot prints in the snow!) These hardy little birds keep our indoor house cats (and me) entertained all year. Minuscule tracks in the snow, tiny hearts beating swiftly, warm blood coursing through wild wings, winter rages, and life perseveres!