The first truly warm day in deep winter, the false spring, whispering of a true season, is like a tongue kiss from the Divine. One of those marmalade kisses that is savored and eternally hoped for. The kind of kiss you receive when you first fall in love. The type no fairy story in the whole of creation can prepare you for, not that you really mind the pleasant surprise of it in the heat of the first passion moment.
Here, in our Kashmir, which, like Morocco, is the land furthest to the west, at least until the Roof of the World, the mercury on porch thermometers read a quaint forty 'Merican degrees on the fahrenheit scale for the first time in a month. Packed ice upon the roadways turned into slush and running rivulets of water toward a slight-hopeful-thaw in the river. Out in the clear and uninhibited sunlight, it felt downright balmy. Coats were shed like the used layers of snakeskin. There were smiles upon faces. Playful snowballs were thrown by children with only a sense of whimsy. It was a beautiful day to be outside. It was a beautiful day to be alive.
Meteorological prophesy foretells of at least two more days of a false spring before the bottom falls out again. Another storm. Another couple of days of cold before warming up again ever-so-slightly, but probably not above freezing. Some look at the sparse false spring days with a certain fatalism, lamenting how they will not last, missing the lesson in impermanence.
Yet these days are more precious than the origami corpses of deified presidents or glittering jewels. The simple fact of their fleeting nature makes them so. Instead of wasting oxygen whining about the circumstance, one should take stock, even if it is to just step outside for a handful of moments to feel bright sunlight and warm air upon the face.
My eyes track across the valley to the rock formation along the northern border of the township; the Bull's Head. It's so close to home it hardly counts as a walkabout or being out in the bush, and yet it's one of my favorite treks. Perhaps because of its simplicity and closeness, and, by virtue of living in a funky mountain township on the borderland fringe of front range and high country, we pretty well live camping. That's why I refer to this place as the Sahel, the shore. In between. Maybe it's because I can do the trail in an hour, and it's enough to fill me with the same kind of reverence some get stepping into temples.
Miliarepa and Whistler will come with. Chevy has been sentenced to arthritis, and walkabouts into the bush, even and especially during colder times, have become a no-no. This saddens me, but there's nothing I can do. Getting old, much like being born, growing up, and dying, happen. So it goes.
A walkabout, however short, seems in order. It would be simply impolite not to bring at least two of the hounds. The prospect of warm sunlight and snow subtlety turning to slush underfoot is intoxicating. Perhaps it's environmental; the fleeting days of false spring appearing to help ward off the potential madness of deep winter cabin fever. On days like this, and times likes these, this can be, indeed, the most wonderful time of the year.