Jan. 9th, 2017
As I ascend the old logging road into the heart of the Pine St Woods my heart begins to
The snow covered road winds up the northern slope and on this day in
January it is cold and winter lies heavy everywhere with a white wool blanket muffling all noise and
connecting everything with its soft embrace.
The forest lies relatively silent now and rests after
the hurried pace of fall, plants and animals alike sojourning after much activity.
Our snowshoes make soft crunching noises and the dogs plunge into the snow up to their chests,
looking at times like snow otters swimming through the powder. The aroma of fir and pine is an
intense bouquet delightful to inhale in deep draughts.
Though the forest appears to slumber,
soon we begin to observe the marks of animals passing through the land. Tracks abound and I
wonder anew at the strength and resilience of animals large and small who can survive in
conditions such as these. The mighty track of the moose is seen as well as the tiny prints of the
mouse, its tail dragging a line through the snow.
We ascend the road to the crown of the hill and
are greeted by light. Glorious winter sunlight shining on a meadow of such beauty that we all
begin to wander. Lost in our own delights and adventures we seek out trees, tracks, like children
caught up in the moment forgetting all else. Soon the delicate prints of the fox are seen, the
snow a perfect crust to hold each track in exact detail, the light dancing on a thousand diamonds
in the snow. Each series of tracks tells a story just waiting for someone to read it. In fact, some
say that reading tracks was how we first developed language and writing. We hear crows cawing,
squirrels alarming, red-breasted nuthatches ( a favorite of mine) doing their monotonous beeping,
and read the stories written all over the Pine St. Woods. Eric takes us to a lookout. A sinuous
old ponderosa pine stands nobly looking out at Baldy Mountain, the Pend Oreille River, and we all
open our eyes, our senses and take a deep breath. This is not just another piece of land, it is
Sandpoints’ very own 100 acre wood, a place of magic, wonder where dreams can come alive
and hearts and minds be healed. As my friend H.D. Thoreau said once, ” We walked in so pure
and bright a light, gilding the withered grass and leaves, so softly and serenely bright, I thought I
had never bathed in such a golden flood, without a ripple or murmur to it. The west side of every
wood and rising ground gleamed like the boundary of Elysium, and the sun on our backs seemed
like a gentle herdsman driving us home at evening”. I look forward to the day coming soon when
the forest and meadows of the Pine St. Woods ring out with children’s laughter and people spread