Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Gray Waiting

The best November days are gray and still. A dome of stratus spreads sourceless light over the stark sticks of the leafless forest. No silence is more profound than on a windless November day.

I flowed along beside the Ossipee River. A flight of hooded mergansers burst out from below the river bank and cracked the swirled mirror of dark water as they dashed to gain air speed. White wing patches flashed with rapid beats as the formation took off, wheeled and headed upstream.

Further on I crested a rise into a cloud of scent that reminded me why I came here. I came for the chill air, the scent of wood smoke and sight of weathered houses, one of them mine. I came for the mountains rising up, inviting exploration.

It's easy to forget these simple things when civilized life makes its own constant demands. The wilderness here is reconstructed, reclaimed by the forest as family after family gave up the fruitless task of trying to eke sustenance out of smaller and smaller subdivisions of the original stony farm.

Lacking the character and full range of practical skills to cut loose and have a subsistence farm of my own, I try instead to live a lightly civilized life. Nibble and sip instead of gobble and guzzle. Just that much would have gone a long way to slow down the crises afflicting us. Oh well. It's not too late, but grows later.

I ride in the gray stillness and wait.

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