8th Jan: Beautiful sunrise colors this morning. I’m admiring the golden tinge to the East-facing hemlock trunks as the still-low-on-the-horizon sun makes its way higher in the sky. Edges of colors—a straight line where gray blue sheets of clouds meet an ecru sky; perhaps a faint lavender line marks the ecotone: clouds to cloudlessness.
11th Jan: Bright pink glass broken into tiny mosaic shards twist, gleam, dive, and resurface—mirror of the smattering of clouds above, tinged by a sun no longer visible beneath the western mountains…I tease myself by closing my eyes for a moment, stunting my primary sense of sight, and I get additional treats: a melody of gurgling waves gently tasting the rocks at the surf’s edge, two verbose gulls contending for the whiniest high-pitched caw award. I reopen my eyes, sure that the rise of the mountains has now blocked out the color-enhancing sun, but the pink is even brighter still, those thick rosy pieces swaying, tilting, dipping. I am allured, falling in love all over again as if I haven’t already had a lifetime of adoration and passion for all that is Nature.
12th Jan, midday: Thirty seconds, totally motionless, focused on the overpowering sunshine widely reflected on this small bay—an indescribably potent metallic white—not warm enough to soften my bones in the 29 F midday, but definitely enough to soften my heart, melting into calm.
12th Jan, late afternoon: I step into the yard without a coat and, with a small shiver, move to the close edge of the grass where the house’s shadow has blocked the sun and lines of frost cover the winter-surviving grass. I stoop down in the way that has become habit, beyond ordinary familiarity—more like intimacy. And I place both hands down side by side in one of the frostiest shadows. My hands barely register the iciness because my shoulders and upper arms are taking the brunt of the cold. But I remain still for just long enough to feel the denseness of the earth, the texture difference between grass and frozen dirt, the small moisture that forms on my palms as frost melts. I wonder if I press more firmly—will I leave two hand-shaped impressions in this grass? I remember as I stroll back into the heated warmth of the house how very easy it is to make direct contact every day with the body of nature that sustains and feeds us all. I relished, was soothed by, these moments touching the frostbitten ground. I remembered how dirt can become so rock solid hard on one winter day, and then become the malleable potter’s clay after the warming Pacific rains on another winter day.
13th Jan: In gloves, double wool hats, boots, down jacket…I spend a few minutes with the pink-ening sky twenty minutes before sunrise. Dog prints on the icy boards of the pier. The unbelievable, unexpected song of birds in the borderland of trees atop the bluff lining the coast…birdsong that could make a grown woman weep with every beautiful life-gift rushing to the surface of her memory.
I’m astounded over and over, even after a half-century-life seeking out small moments in nature, how restorative these tiny experiences can be.
(Originally posted five years ago this week.)