I spent several hours hiking from the house to the forestland of brooks, the big hill calling me despite its foot-deep snow, my feet complaining for the lack of skis or snowshoes, the chill of March protesting winter’s age and still no sign of spring. I bushwhacked into silence and a maze of animal tracks– the two-legged neighbors and the four-legged friends unseen, except for deer and a small band of sparrows. I heard no sounds other than my labored breath, my boots crunching through ice, the brook babbling under whiteness, the muted call of a distant nuthatch and a raven.
My bushwhack tour held no significance, no reason to be told, no question to be answered. It was just too cold for fishing in the brook or river, yet I needed to be out. I loved it when the sun appeared briefly from the bruised world and the cloudy dome above. Life was simplified for a moment or two, made sweet and stupid like a memory of youth, the hope for a brighter day ahead. I walked off the trail, among the twist and mess of winter changes, and indeed it seemed that the power of the world still works in circles (as Black Elk said), and that everything labors to be round.
I believe there are spirits in each place that we inhabit. I can feel them in the streams and foothills where I fish and hike. These spirits are unlike small-winged humanoids (please!) living under bridges or flying around in Halloween garments. Instead, they seem to be natural energies, forms of life– a storied villager, a native trout, a tree sparrow, a raven, or a first spring wildflower. These particular lives inhabit our souls, forgotten maybe, but always there. Such lives will attract me forever, and for no great reason I go wandering and find them where I can.