"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

24 December 2010

A Winter Stroll

The thermometer read seventeen quaint American degrees upon the fahrenheit scale. Pristine white snow glittered along the mountainsides and high peaks of the valley, casting highlighted contrasts within the folds of vertical landscape. The sky was that perfect turquoise blue with a slight smattering of wispy clouds, cream in color, almost clashing with that pristine white of the snow below it.

After breakfast and those subsequent chores, mourning coffee, and a yerba mate latte, I decided to go check the post. A walk seemed to be in order. Inhale the crisp winter air and feel the crunch of snow under the soles of my German mountaineer's boots. Feel the majesty of being within the incorporeal gaze and shadows of those high peaks.

Thus far, it has been a something of an odd winter. Warmer than previous years. The river is not nearly as frozen over. I noticed this in more stark resolve as I crossed the footbridge over the Grand Canal by the gazebo. Although the dirt streets have their seasonal snowpack, there are bare spots where the dirt and gravel peeks through. There are icy spots from the thaws and freezes of several days of getting above freezing, which is a bit queer for this time of year.

Even the Long Loch, five-hundred vertical feet down-valley is not completely frozen over yet, which I find vaguely disturbing, given observed patterns of past freezes and thaws. Not that it's stopped the ice fishers. I question the wisdom of that pastime anyway. But on a not completely frozen mountain lake? Madness. I wonder if there will be the ice races this season.

The post was standard fare; bills and propaganda to be thrown away upon receiving. I traded pleasantries with the post mistress and got myself a handful of chocolate. More than anything, she just seemed pleased to be able to talk to someone on a brisk winter mourning. The township is quiet in general, but it being mid mourning in winter, it seemed especially silent.

Bundled in my boots, jacket, scarf, and cap, the crispness didn't really cut as deep as it could have. In past lives and other places, the idea of willingly walking somewhere when it was seventeen quaint American degrees on the fahrenheit scale would seem like madness, if not just unnecessary. Living in the mountains, I've developed a certain understanding of the cold, even if it sometimes exacerbates the pains in my twisted skeleton. The view of those high peaks makes it worth the price of admission.

Something that drew me into the mountains is something I find fascinating about deserts; the landscapes of extremes. A place of harsh beauties, which is not for everyone that can potentially kill you if you are arrogant enough to believe you can bend it to your will. Most only come to such places for holiday. Outback slumming. It takes someone with tenacity, quirkiness, and perhaps a slight bit of off-kilter to actually live in such a location.

Such were the equations within the mathematics of my thoughts as I walked back home. The sky, the mountainsides, and high peaks sang out in the otherworldly octaves that you can only hear if you both know how, and, choose, to listen. Every so often, the very shiny-real surrealism of the place, and the fact I live here, hits me between the eyes like a two-ton heavy thing.

Upon walking in the door, I put on the kettle for an infusion of keemun. There was checking the fuel for the fire and the lighting of an incense stick. Pleasant musics were on the radio. The dogs and cats all took their turns in expressing how happy they were to see me once more.

I was calm. Reptile zen. That certain sort of peace that language cannot fully describe, but still leaves a smile across one's face. Once upon a time, I was told walks are good for the soul, and I really do believe that, even if I am not sure if I have a soul to begin with. Walks like that, after all, are like the ones where the touch of the Divine is the most tangible. Stop and pay attention, and you will feel it.

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