Summer in Winter

A few day ago I was snowshoeing in a familiar place. What caught my eye was something I’m used to seeing in the summer, but don’t think about much in the winter. Hiking up through the woods along the Pacific Crest Trail reminded me of doing trail work. Feels like months since I’ve cut brush or cleaned a culvert. Or bucked a log out of the trail. It has been months. It will be months before the snow is melted enough to allow for trail work.

Then there was a recent conversation about the details of insects in the woods. How nice to not think about the high-pitched whining of mosquitoes, or the ghostly brush of their wings against the skin before they settle down for a drink. Or the deer fly that gets trapped between the glasses and the eye, in the ear canal, or inhaled by accident. Or the itchy no-see-um bites on my ankles. It feels so refreshing to have feet out of sweaty hiking boots at camp during those Waptus Lake evenings. No-see-ums are crepuscular, sneaking through the air at twilight to find exposed flesh. They seem to prefer where bones protrude–ankles, knuckles. I should know this by now.

Then thinking about camping reminds me of summer nights full of shooting stars, when a person can lie on a rock outcrop looking up, wondering if it will get truly dark.

And flowers. And the sound of running water. And the singing of thrushes. The feel of hot sun, and the joy of deep shade. And lightning.

Well. Summer feels a long way off. The days are lengthening, but it’s still winter with new snow coming down. Don’t have to think about vine maple that grows three feet in one season or blood-sucking insects for awhile yet. There is still some skiing to do.

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