Snow-covered mineshaft grate

img_6424I took the 900 around the back side of Cougar Mountain, but it doesn’t get much direct light this time of year and the road was icy in early morning, with snow on the trees still—and when Ginger and I got to the parking lot we were the only ones at the trail head, we got on the plateau just after sunrise, but it was so low it was hard to tell if the sun was coming up or going down.

I had a pair of Yaktrax on (like cramp-ons but without the metal teeth, they’re steel coils instead), and they worked so well I could run on the icy trail, past the frozen marsh, out onto Clay Pit road that leads to more trails and peek-a-boo views of the mountains—and as I ran I felt strong, but remembered all the soft cheese and Port we consumed last month, how it was cold enough in the garage we could put the cheese there overnight and bring it in in the mornings so it could soften, but sometimes forgot and left it out a few days until it was like butter, and we spread it on crisps with tart cherries and homemade jam, smiled, said how glad we were.

I brought cold salmon with me on the trail and ate it with my fingers, let Ginger lick the oil, fed her the skins which are no good cold, they’re like chainmail armor, like something you’d use to scrub the inside of a cooking pot—and I hurried home for a Skype meeting at noon, took a hot bath, lay in bed, met Dawn in the den to denude the house of Christmas, had a moment with the tree when it was bare to say thanks—went for Charlotte at the bus stop and paused in the doorway thinking at last, I could be a model in one of those Ralph Lauren catalogues I’d always fantasized one day I’d be, with my scarf and my sweater, my chinos and hair combed back from the sink—but in the next frame, I knew I wasn’t as good looking or young (or rich), and met Charlotte at the bus who was just in a T-shirt and asked her why but she only scowled—and I told her we’d taken everything down and she seemed excited by that, she ran ahead with her backpack wobbling, and I wondered if she was clumsy or if all kids run like that.

And when I got to the front door the snow man collapsed, its head slid off in some impossible yoga pose that looked hard on the neck, the throat gone like the crows had gotten to it—and though we said we wanted to take stock of all our Christmas things this year we did the same as we always do, we jammed it all back willy-nilly: we rounded up all the glass balls and figurines like prisoners and stuffed them in boxes with ill-fitting lids, we threw them in the upper-loft next to Halloween and Easter—and Dawn took to vacuuming the pine needles with all the vigor of a dental hygienist getting in the cracks and crevices, but the vacuum started to make a rattling sound like something was wrong, and I had to get on top of it and look inside: I got a paring knife and cut the animal hair out and gathered it in a pile until it looked like a mouse corpse when it was all out—and I couldn’t stop picking at it, I was gritting my teeth, I had to be pried off and sit in the corner for a while, to catch my breath.

And I watched Ginger on the trail thinking she’s like me and my writer mind: she gets distracted by the remains of others, the cracks and crevices, ever watchful but likely to go off-route—seems happy and alive though, using her senses.

Frozen marshSketchy bridge crossingOn the way to Clay Pit roadGinger (Chinook)

Categories: prose, writing

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

25 replies

  1. Well conjured – tale of Christmas (just) passed. It’s a strange liminal time, the putting away, the facing the year. Cheers to all of us going forward – however whichway.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We had the same good intentions with paring down xmas stuff. After is probably not the best time but at the start it seemed cruel. Every decoration has meaning or a story. Lovely photos in this one…looks like you had the woods to yourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the title. Sounds like a Captain Beefheart song.


  4. I love my Yaktrax too and am bummed that I haven’t really needed them yet this winter. The weather here has been so odd that everything is either impenetrable ice or frozen dirt. No tracks to be yakked.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Very enjoyable day in the life! Looking at Ginger makes me think my dog, Kookaburra, might be part Chinook. Ginger is a beautiful dog 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. i can certainly identify with the ‘likely to go off route’ title.


  7. I like how your writerly mind did not go off roading in this one yet still remains happy and alive and using the senses. Sometimes my readerly mind is too easily beboggled by off roading. My favorites of yours cater to my easily beboggled mind, and this is one of them. I also wonder how you are always up at the crack of dawn, on a trail or some such. Unless I have to be at work, I’m staying in bed right through the crack of dawn, and not getting up for any reason until the sun is high in the sky. I’m an old man, I need my rest.


    • As you know, I play with off roading / glad though I could keep your beboggled mind still for this. I actually try to write to the beboggled mind if that makes sense, the easily distracted mind: trying to understand what hooks that restless reader. Sometimes I’m sure it backfires, but it’s been a fun exercise. I understand not getting up at the crack of dawn as you suggest. I have a hard time sleeping past the sunrise though, my restless mind feels I’m missing something. There’s nothing like the look in the sky though with the mountains when it’s that pale blue/orange tint and you know you’ve got the whole morning to drink it in, I love it.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Lovely imagery – photos and words. Love that packing away of Xmas – just like ours, all folded away in ill fitting boxes till next year. And yes, hard to pare the decorations down, especially as they carry ghosts of Christmas Past in each one. Love that idea of you and Ginger, out in the snow, discovering the snow covered world together. Love the idea of those Yaktrax too – I could do with those getting off our hill sometimes 🙂


    • Thank you Lynn! It’s one of my favourite things, to go out in the wilderness and gather ideas for writing, feels good, and better to share with you…cheers, Bill.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Living in a city, with the closest thing to wilderness being the shrubs in the local park, I do enjoy hijacking your experiences with nature. And you describe them so clearly and so well


  9. “Dental hygienist.” You know why that’s so great? Because Jesus loves you.

    Liked by 1 person

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