Eighteen geese walking on the water of French Creek, the ice an inch or so below the surface, a herd of many deer breaking from a grove of pine for the safety of dense wetlands, no birds, nothing in this dry and bluest of Pennsylvania skies, and the dogs roaming the fields of unbroken snow but being Borders always turning back to me, watching my hands and body. When I bend, they return, driving like rams, snow cutting off them, anxious for my hand to fly off with a snowball that they chase with a deranged focus. They would do so until they dropped.
This is a morning of equipoise. The sun arcs higher each day. It is 21 degrees, but I would be warm in my fleece. The sunlight on the snow, the light streaming to everything around us, the snow perfect in its fresh and polished gloss, the dogs by me, the miracle of walking in all this — my god this is the simplicity for which we thirst.
We follow the tracks of a fox for over a mile. Light enough to keep above the crust, he walked in and out of tree lines, skimmed diagonally across fields and once, after a mouse, must have dived again and again. You do not forget that sight — their ears rotate, settle, they crouch, arch, leap up, bend their bodies and bury their heads to their shoulders beneath the snow (or in the summer after mowing in a hayrick.). I imagined that now — this one fox under last night’s big moon, stopping, his skein of tracks twirling out behind him, and then breaking the silence with his spring and crunch. Luna buries her face, searching for scent, for the meaning of this rumpled snow.