Learning to walk, the path opens before me.
This has been my subterranean mantra for more than a decade; almost since I moved to this land. This land has been my most generous teacher. By land I mean this place, this singular spot on this whirling planet; the snow-covered earth beneath my feet, fleeting sunshine with low clouds settling through it, gradually veiling Land’s End, Coal Mountain, Mendicant Ridge; this forest in summer scent or winter wonderland, in sandals or snowshoes; this little fenced yard with garden paths among full bloom or shoveled clear through one-foot snow.
The larger question of place, where we live as a network of loose-knit communities, a tapestry of peoples that inhabit the two main valleys along this forked river system, intricately woven with smaller streams and valleys among mesas of many elevations, this land has also been a generous teacher as I, since I moved here two decades ago, have been learning to walk.
These past few weeks, Morning Rounds has consisted mostly of shoveling paths through the frequent snows to get where I need to go: the back gate, the compost, the bird feeders, the generator, the front gate, the car, the woodpile.
Marla helped me re-insulate the beehive a couple of weeks ago, right before the snow started falling. We pulled off the top strawbales and affixed, with some fumbling, blueboard-lined pine panels around the sides, and also put blueboard beneath the peaked roof, on top of the flat roof the bees sealed to the hive with propolis months ago. The first bees probably awoke as we removed the roof, its protective overhang too big for us to work around. As we fretted and fussed with the panels the bees began to stir, two or three first stepping to their threshold, then even flying out. It was very cold even then. By the time we got the panels set and the roof back on the whole hive was buzzing. They weren’t coming out, but we stood close and could hear them very busily buzzing some essential message to one another. A few hours later they were completely quiet again. I haven’t seen a bee since then, as the snow piles up on their roof, merging with the snow on the bales, creating a cozy snow cave inside which they are protected from the elements of what has turned into a very cold very snowy winter.
Other memorable moments since Christmas:
Last night, sharing yet another holiday feast with good friends, this time we took ourselves out. We say again and again, “We can get better food at home when we cook for ourselves,” and it’s generally true. So many among us are excellent cooks, and that way we don’t have to drive at night and can be in our PJs by nine-thirty. We are rural dwellers who are getting older. We like the comforts of our homes. But last night we made the trek in the dark through light snow over roads plowed awhile ago, the four or five miles from our various homes to convene at The Vagabond in our little downtown. Dick Berardi has been a well-known Colorado chef for many decades, and plies his trade these days in downtown Crawford. A full menu met our appetites, and in that small dining room with other friends nearby and neighbors we didn’t know we ate and drank, talked and laughed, amid all the sparkles we needed for New Year’s Eve. And we still got to get in our PJs by ten.