Before this week’s melt, the Wolf and I walked snowfields and woods one long afternoon. The snow had hardened. We walked on its surface. For a splinter of that afternoon, twenty minutes or so, an interlude, I felt as if we had come alone into a new place, one ablaze with light. Everything I looked at seemed so completely itself, cordoned off from its larger context, each separated into its own image: A cornflower blue sky. Quiet. A row of pines. High, reddish grasses. A black and white dog running after deer over three hundred yards of snow. The bare, fractaled branches of tall trees. Wolfie, silent, motionless, head raised, watching geese above us. A muddy stream twisting and shining. Stillness. The full skeleton of a huge doe, its rib cage yawning out from its spine like the beamed structure of a barn. Finally, as if to draw an end to this moment — one Great Blue Heron close to us, right over us now, as straight as a pin, wings arcing in slow, powerful beats, back legs stretching out evenly behind it.
That’s all — twenty pure minutes. We drove home, the Wolf, leaning against the back seat, watching the countryside intently.