Wednesday, February 3, 2010

February Storm

The storm that just came through dumped a ton of rain in the canyon. During the night we heard the rain on the roof, steady, steady, steady and woke up early to heavy clouds like a lid on the canyon. As the clouds shifted, the end of a high ridge above the house would poke through the storm. The glimpse of jagged snow-covered cliffs hovering above the clouds reminded me of Unuru, our Mongolian friend, who always referred to the canyon rims as “beautiful mountains.”

Our plan to ride for cattle quickly changed to a day working on corrals and outbuildings. With the top layer of soil on steep north facing slopes thawed and saturated, it was too slick, too mucky, and too soft for trailing.

The thermometer hovered at 36 degrees as sodden cold sucked at our bundled bodies, but I noted with glee the tiny green plants germinating in protected spots and the green shoots of grass poking up in the orchard. There is a turn in the air, and inside my own cells a small voice ringing the bell of spring.

After a fast hike to the bench to spot the herd left me with boots and jeans soaked through and hands damp and numbed inside their gloves, my thoughts were only on the woodstove and a mug of hot tea. The winter canyon has many labors to consider. And many gifts as well, as this poem from the Magpie Ranch journal reminds me.

February Canyon

This is an hour when all could find a will to live.
A solitary hour with no other human soul in sight, among the wind, the bleached grasses,
the rust colored locust pods in their transient, timeless places.

And the river, industrious, committed to its journey, as if each vesicle,
each droplet riffle-joined, had passed these rocks and willow-matted shores
uncounted times before, such that their passing now earns not a glance
or hesitation in the scour and fall and pour.

And shadows cut a mirror likeness of their great rimmed parents,
echoes of light so stark they seem more solid than the rock-ridged walls that cast them,
predictable in their march from day to night, a conquest far beyond the tiny paths of men,
and knowing every crack and frond and seep and newly tumbled stone.

This is the opera of our days, the great unfolding from which scatter forth
the reds and browns of story, the blues and greens of life, the germ and decay,
the blossom and fruit, the wing and song, the hum and foam, the toil.

We populate this place with more than those of us who are living.

From Sara at Magpie Ranch, home of Bunchgrass Beef