I finished reading Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard this morning, and felt compelled to go visit the little brook just at the edge of our property. The air was still and the temperature at 26 felt nearly warm compared to yesterdays single-digit dawn. I was craving movement.
After the animals were fed and watered, petted and talked to, Bravo and I walked to the far edge of the pasture. The gate was mostly frozen, but I was able to wedge it open just enough to create a little opening for us, and out we went.
Underfoot there was a thick layer of ice lingering from earlier storms. It is pocked and etched, with patches of old grass peeking through. The falling snow freshened it up like a coat of new paint. Just last week in this spot I could see the crazed tunnels made by voles or mice all under the frozen white. I traced their travels from hummock to hummock, and imagined them finding seeds or maybe even sleeping grubs to eat.
Bravo was excited to explore. When he was a younger dog it made him a little anxious to leave the property. He is bolder now. And fast! His tawny and white coat blends beautifully with the backdrop of winter grass and snow.
Surrounded by trees, hidden from the house or people passing in cars I thought, "Not a single soul knows where I am." I was only partially right.
The horse and goats may have noticed the departure from my normal routine, but only Abraham seemed concerned. He left breakfast, and ventured carefully over the ice in the lower part of the pasture. He stood at the fence line, alone, and called to me. Twice. He waited, looking forlorn, until I returned.
The winter brook is shallow, but spring rains and thaw will soon have it spilling over it's banks. I will be able to hear its song even just when I step outside. It is snowing this morning, but spring is coming. There are signs all around me.