Night soundscapes and snow devils

Base Camp, Bradford ME. The great spring melt and winds of March have arrived early. We received 3.05-inches of rain in the last 24-hours. It hit 54°F yesterday, then plummeted to 11° when I woke up sometime before dawn. The moonlight pouring in the window at the foot of our bed made it difficult to tell the time of day, especially when the outdoor solar motion light came on with each wind gust.

Chip lay belly up with his legs bent at awkward angles in the air between Kevin and I. The cedar in the stove snapped and popped. A single HOOOO cut through the night, an owl likely protesting the weather that kept his skittering dinner from view. Kevin and the cat snored. I took in the soundscape while trying to decide if the light on the ceiling above the window had brightened. A long time passed. The outdoor light shone on the other side of the one-room cabin again. It was impossible to tell how far off dawn was. I got up anyway.

The week before, we’d listened to coyotes as we lay in the dark. They closed in on the camp yipping and howling. After the pack had fallen silent, an lone coyote cried out a few long ragged howls much closer to the camp. It touched a primal place deep in my bones. We are, of course, nothing but animals with an extraordinary ability to manipulate everything around us, and exploit if for our gain. Coyotes need only for food, water, shelter and sex. The longer we live here, the closer to a coyote I feel. And that’s okay with me.

The clothesline tied to a log-end on the corner of the cabin creaked as the wind tormented the small tree at the other end. The loft door to Danny’s room lightly rattled every few minutes, making a low, hollow-sounding thud as it wavered in it’s frame. In between gusts, I could make out the rushing of the stream where we get our water. Surely it had swollen overnight and flowed over the frozen surface of the waterfall.

Just a few days ago we walked up the frozen surface of the stream to cut fallen cedar along the banks for firewood. I stepped through a few times, and Kevin knocked some logs through when he attempted to split them on the surface. Staying warm and clean are luxuries most humans take for granted. A little reminder isn’t a bad thing.

Trees around the camp squealed and groaned as they leaned in the wind. There are no big trees looming over the camp. The property was cut over hard twenty or so years back. The loggers left deeply-grooved trails in the swampy ground, branching out from the old woodyard. Most have grown in with birches and poplar, but the scars and stumps are still there. Some larger trees were saved by the difficulty of traversing the swamp between them and the road. It wasn’t financially worth their trouble.

I trodded to the outhouse at the sky turned pale-blue. Mud gave way below a thin frozen layer on top that was dusted with fresh snow. I imagined the chocolate topping you pour over an ice cream cone that solidifies on contact. It was like that, with a dusting of powdered sugar on top. Wind blew on my face from the open doorway, up through the floorboards through the legs of my PJ pants, and even up the hole as I sat.

Little snow devils spun by. I relished the moment.

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