This day was filled with atmospheric variety. Frozen morning, sun coming pale gold on pine trees. Then some thin fog. Crew goes out to ski trails in the Swauk. Some slopes have a thin crust of snow, and shade. We eat lunch leaning back on a ditch bank and two gray jays appear. Camp robbers. They are engaging–bright dark eyes watching us eat, then winging up to a different branch to look at us from a different perspective. Soft whistling calls, feathers fluffed in the cold air.
Hiking on, we emerge into a patch of sunlight. Stand still for a minute to turn to the sun and bask in the momentary warmth. Then descend out of the snow to easy terrain in the open pine forest. I keep looking up at the blue sky and white clouds. No hazy smoky October air–this atmosphere is clear. Long green ponderosa pine needles glisten in the sun and the bark is the color of scorched cinnamon. But finally it is the texture of the grasses and pine needles that holds my attention. This is at 2:45 in the afternoon, and the light is slanting. The contrast of shadows, the richness of the underlying soil, the warm earth tones of the dead foliage, the swirl of the shapes…again I have to stand still and bask in this. Then I see the few strands of grass that are still green, still photosynthesizing. And notice a couple of frail insects still flying.
The familiar world is a constant stream of wonders when you begin to wake up to it. Even if you are at work.
We did get work done. The crew was glad to be out–it’s our last week together before the seasonals are laid off. And maybe our last day of sun before a series of winter storms arrives to alter the scene yet again.