Saturday, January 12, 2013

Each morning snow falls. Small round balls reminiscent of bean bag stuffing. Light bits of frozen fog. Small wispy flakes. Giant goose feathers. This is not the usual winter I have known in over 14 years of life on the ranch. I have to admit to days when the magic of the black and white world of frosted trees against a predawn sky has failed to enchant me. It is difficult to execute the jobs of the ranch. Like hauling bags of chicken scratch up a frozen driveway when the tires of the wheelbarrow and my boots fail to grip the earth and slide around instead. I've encountered these times in years past, but they are fun when it is only a week or so. Going on nearly a month...I offer hearty acknowledgment to those who live in this climate for months at a time!

But when I got into the car to go down to the Post Office for mail yesterday the sight of the valley took my breath away. I suddenly understood the Hyampom Valley as 'she'. And after all these years living here it registered in my brain just how many moods she has. She is not an at-a-glance kind of gal. Yesterday the long line of the longest continuous ridge in North America wore the soft scarves of mingled gray and white ribbons of cloud all along her various elevations. The fog hung in the multitudes of draws revealing her complex geography. The entire valley had dusting of snow and she was regal, a queen in her royal gown. The South Fork River wove through, sinuous, strong.

And there are times when she hides. When her lines are not so obvious, when the mountain appears flat, even drab. She is not Yosemite, obvious in her elegance all the time. No, she is a valley of subtle grace, enchanting beauty, modesty her usual dress. I stay here because her moods are many, her treasures endless, her gifts abundant. Her serenity...healing. I am glad she is not Yosemite or we would have tour buses roaring around. Instead I rejoice in those days when Hyampom Valley pulls out all the stops and reminds me that she is every bit as awesome as her sister valley to the southeast, the Cinderella yet to be taken to the ball. Thank goodness!

Monday, January 7, 2013

I have failed to post for a year. A year of dramatic change. Have you had one of those years before? I had the life sucked out of me and it has only now beginning to seep back in.

Our rainfall has been phenomenal. The pond is at its fullest. The stream running through the meadow has just begun to sprout watercress once again. Relief! The generosity of the wilderness to offer up nutritious greens while snow blankets the ground gives me hope, once again.

I pulled myself from the couch to walk the long loop with the dogs just before darkness fell. I had to make myself do it today, but once out I felt the natural pull of the forest moving me along pathways I know with my eyes closed. The snow has, after nearly three weeks, begun to melt just a bit. The going is not quite the workout it has been.

If you've read this blog you remember about the visitation of Captain Jack last winter. The ruddy buck surely left his mark and gave me countless sleepless nights assisting 5 does in the delivery of their offspring. 8 young ones offered boundless love in May of 2012. Five of the flock found a new home this last fall. The herd numbers 9. They do not like the snow so much. In the week giant white feathers fell constantly they were hidden away in their manger. Now they begin to wear visible pathways moving single file across the snow, nibbling the usnea from fallen oak branches.

I let myself fantasize today about the wildflowers of spring, encouraged by the sighting of watercress sprouting. While the winter shrouded earth suggests only brown lifeless branches exist, Nasturtium officinale sings of the return of the light.