Reflections on Nature

single man on showshoes in a snowy meadow, black and white

Jan. 9th, 2017

As I ascend the old logging road into the heart of the Pine St Woods my heart begins to warm.

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 Sandpoint’s 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 picnic blankets beneath the noble birch that graces the meadow.