"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

26 January 2011


Have you ever tasted sunlight? Perhaps that sounds absurd, and I can understand it. Up until a few years ago, I would've looked upon someone presenting me with that inquiry as though they were mad. After all, if you've never been near, or at, the poles, or just stayed where it's flat, the question makes no sense.

Here in the mountains, in our Kashmir, situated in this Sahel, watching the interplay of light and shadow can be quite something; checkerboards of clouds and sun and silhouettes or sheer vertical terrain. I've seen similar phenomena when traveling by air, looking down at a patchwork world from over thirty-thousand feet above the surface of the world's oceans. Also, out in the badlands, where the land and sky seem to go on forever and ever and ever amen in all directions, leaving one feeling so small and insignificant against the background of khaki, I've seen the sun and clouds create intriguing designs upon a canvas of the land itself.

I have mentioned the long dark. That point, right around my daughter's birthday, when the world's tilt upon its axis and the virtue of orbit sends the sun hiding behind Mount Pendelton, along the valley's southern ridge line. For six weeks after, no direct sunlight falls upon the House of Owls and Bats. It seems then that winter really kicks into high gear. That is when it feels winter is at its coldest.

And for almost the last month, filled with steady snows and harsh cold snaps, we've been reminded of the fact it's winter here in the highlands of Rocky Mountains. Plows have pushed up drifts along the roadways that vary in depth only because of the elevation they occur at. At its deepest point around the house, I'd estimate we've had eight inches of snow since it started with steady earnest.

But one day, always imperceptibly, there's that...sensation. Something in the deep winter air has changed. Perhaps it's something within the orbit, which is felt way deep down within the biology. It is then, if you pay attention, you can catch the taste of sunlight, warm and golden, honey and wine, upon your tongue. Someone who's never been where sun does not always shine cannot fully understand, but this is the sweetest and most intoxicating of ambrosias.

In the days before, the nearing dollops of daylight look like lemon meringue upon the snow. Saliva builds within the mouth. Then, as subtlety and quickly as the long dark began, it is over. The sun, warm and bright, shines directly down once more.

Here it is; the backside of winter. Day by day, those dollops of direct sunlight upon the house will last longer, growing more and more, until the entire section of the valley is entirely illuminated once more. Eventually, the layers of winter snow will melt. Then, it will be spring.

The very thought of it brings a smile to my face. A big old cheshire cat's grin. I find myself content, feeling that life is good.


  1. A fabulous post. You paint such pictures with your words that it is like standing at your shoulder watching the scenes with you.

    That first touch of sun sounds amazing.