Thursday, February 17, 2011

Weather Report: Cloudy

Where can I go from your Spirit?
   Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
   if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
   if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
   your right hand will hold me fast. 

Psalm 139:7-10

The dogs had been clamoring all morning for their daily jaunt, four pairs of eyes watching, waiting, until a tangle of leashes, cold noses against my leg, stumble and turn: the door shuts my calendar behind us. And we breathe.

Today our walk is one of rounded edges as the 40 degree weather drops a cloud on my skin, tangling it in the branches of white pine and elm. The wet-dark bark of their trunks carves overcast silhouettes through the fog, erased of color, like a grisaille drawing by a Michelangelo. The vibrancy is at my feet: broken green, spotted gold, and rust poking through the cloven tracks of deer. The snow is translucent, crystallized over oak leaves and mud. It’s a melting snow.

I pull off my scarf and wish for snowshoes, sinking to my knees, socks drenched despite the crackle of Cub Foods plastic lining my boots. I imagine my toes will be wrinkled and stained in pink dye before long. Our speed is slow enough for the old one’s arthritis. Slow enough for pine needles to glisten, drop water on my forehand, eyelashes, and feel my hair curl in the damp. The dogs run loose, beneath the shapeless two-note chickadee and rasp of the cardinal, muted like a piano’s soft pedal, and I can barely hear the testing of snowmobiles from the neighboring Polaris plant.

In the cloud, perspective deepens, and I wonder if the trees could stretch beyond Wyoming, Minnesota, crossing oceans, until they shake hands with another misty forest on the island of New Guinea.

White is exchanged for green, and the gaharu trees swing low under moss in the rare Cloud Forests. Science tells me that only certain tropical latitudes with mountains of specific altitudes near the sea can support the descent of the cloud. Receiving little sunlight, the trees are crooked and stunted, like an old man, his long white beard condensing on the leaves, dripping into the ground. Black-plumed cassowary birds strut through the roots and ferns, watched by the bear-like face of a tree kangaroo, secure in the heights with his long chestnut tail. Today, I flip through pages and meet their home in a book. In six months, a one-way plane ticket.

And I watch my dogs rummage through the emerging leaves near my house, 29152 Hillcrest Drive, 8,000 miles from where the heavens come down and settle in the depths of the forest, on the far side of the sea.