Two best friends and a new (to me) raft! What could be a better day for its first trip down the Hudson with me as its owner?! We three took turns guiding, playing the whole way down the river. Overcast but warm enough. Thinking it was going to be a sunny day, we didn’t top the boat off before getting in the water so it was a little mushy making all the waves bouncier, all the hydraulics stickier! Ended up accidentally surfing in a couple of spots, one trying to flip us, but we all high sided keeping our weight out of the hole. Floating out the last couple of miles, we laughed, talked, enjoyed each others company, lounged, relished another beautiful day on the River. This big blue raft is making many happy memories.
Driving slowly along the muddy road I live on, looking at the high rushing brown water in the raging creek, I notice notice two mergansers in the deeper swiftly flowing channel next to the island. I stop the car and watch their merriment. The male is flashing black and white and the female is an elegant smooth grey with a spicy cinnamon head. They are paddling furiously with their little webbed feet, occasionally flapping wings just enough to walk on the water but not take flight splashing water in every direction. Slowly with much effort they are pushing upstream through the waves and riffles, using small eddies behind rocks to help their upstream travel. Then they dive into the churning water, disappearing for long moments, only to pop up in the fast current, sliding downstream through the rapids. I sit watching this spectacle for many long minutes. I know how they feel, the sheer joy of navigating whitewater!
Snowshoeing with a big group this week. I take up the sweep position, I like walking with the kind of people who end up last in the back. Its also much quieter when you’re removed from the main group. We all start out together, but quickly spread out to enter the woods trails (in the summer the mountain bikers use them). Our group hikes down to the bottom of a small saddle between two peaks and then up the other side. By the time we emerge back onto the ski trails, they are empty, the lift having closed some time ago. Its is just us and the sunset. We have a spectacular western view, with the sun sliding behind the sister peak we started out on an hour or so ago. The sky is a soft blue up high and fading into a fuzzy pale rainbow effect above the north eastern mountain ridges. You can see all the faint colors layered hazy and indistinct, pale blue darkening to purple, fading to red, bleeding to orange, shifting to yellow, turning to the palest green just above the dark mountains across the valley. As we descend we loose sight of the western sky, but watch all the subtle color changes as this side of the earth turn away from our fiery star. We come around a sharp corned and have another immense view of the west. Layers of bright orange, dark yellow, fluorescent pink, deep red, bruised purple, and where the sky peeks through the layered clouds, pale blue and palest yellow. These clouds reach out gently above us like giant fingers and fade to dark indigo toward the east. As we descend further, the colors deepen, strengthen, then fade away to darkness by the time we return to the base lodge. This is one of the many reason I enjoy snowshoeing!
I pull into the driveway and get out of the car, happy to be home from work. Looking out across the yard I see what looks like giant squirrel tracks in the snow. They are everywhere like a hundred giant squirrels were running through the yard. Closed examination doesn’t solve the mystery because the wind is blowing and has obscured the finer details inside the tracks. I go inside and tell Jonathan what I found. He smiles wide and laughs, and explains. Earlier in the morning, two mink had appeared in the yard and were having the time of their lives playing and roughhousing with each other in the snow. He followed them through every window as the circled the house, ran up into the woods only to reappear on the other side of the house still enraptured in their game. They were the happiest mink anyone has ever seen, chasing each other for many minutes. Before finally disappearing into the woods. Later I went out the fill the bird feeders and followed some of the tracks in their meandering rollicking, frolicking course, seeing in my minds eyes those two capering mink so joyful just to be!