On a high pine bow at a bend in the river rests an osprey. Motionless. I see only the silhouette of the black and white bird. Perhaps awaiting his next meal from the gently moving waters below. Or perhaps for the raptor this is no more than a respite. The time between.
The waters remain unfrozen. A mild autumn. A silky flow of silver over smoothly polished stones. No more than pearls of ice form on low limbs overhanging the north side of the embankment. Small patches of hoar frost spread in secret spaces hidden from the sun along the shore. White as fresh snow, a reminder of what should be, what will be.
It is not easy to get here. A tangle of vines and fallen trees, grabbing my jeans, snapping branches, leaving welts of whip marks across my cheeks if I don’t duck in time. Keeping the river wild. Deer tracks. Signs where the coyote has crossed. No tell tale signs of rubber tread ahead of us; only our own following. Huge ponderosa stumps, roots and all, pile up like a log jam at a sharp bend. The water is choosing, creating a new route, cutting into the softer bank on the now receiving side of this flow.
They say winter is late to come here this year. I have nothing to compare it to. I seek references, association. There is a comfort in knowing. Putting the view before us in its proper place. A tidy jar on a shelf. Likewise, an unease in everything seeming so new.
We read about the many storms that have covered our old mountain, tucked her in tight for the season. That we understand. It fits into the links of the past we carry with us though we try to let go. If we were there, now would be our time for reveling in our solitude. Reconnecting with the trails and secret places that only we go. Reclaiming our big back yard.
I am aware of the selfishness of solitude. On one hand a breeding ground for deeper thinking. Undisturbed silence to allow our brains to bloom. My thoughts, my terms, my time. On the other hand is community and intelligent conversation. Are greater thoughts raised in the back and forth between interacting minds, or in the void of solitude? The challenge of defining and defending.
We are not there. We are here. A new mountain, new land, new back yard. And newness carries unease that only time can soften. The time between. Between the hardness of discovery and that softness of understanding.
Newness reminds us nothing is known for certain. We float precariously. Perhaps that is a more realistic point of view than feeling grounded, solid on assumptions.
I look down river again and the osprey is gone.