I started out my walk from the cabin under gray skies, crossing Tahosa Creek, which is still frozen and smothered in snow, and as I bushwacked my way up the hill, it started snowing hard, obliterating all the mountain tops around me. This was the kind of snowstorm I had been craving all winter, the snowflakes falling fast and heavy, big thick ones so I could almost make out the individual pattern in each flake, almost dizzying in their flight to earth.
But by the time I reached the top of the hill and started down the road, the sun had come out again, as if the snow had been a figment of my snow-starved imagination. The sun felt delicious, and I thought I could smell the earth for the first time since last fall, moist, dense, full of living matter just waiting to spring to life.
Around me, some of the aspen were flowering (above), the soft pussy willows resembling cherry blossoms—this subtle mountain version more delicate than the more riotous outspoken pink on the plains. I read later that aspen leaves and plants that grow more readily in an aspen forest, because of more sunlight, decay faster than pine needles, so the earth is richer with nutrients than under the pine trees. Almost unconsciously I slowed my steps, wanting to linger in this spring-like moment.
But too fast, as I reached the main road, the clouds started moving in again, starting to erase the Twin Sisters peaks to the north (above), and soon I was pelted with something between snowflakes and rain. The moisture descended from the skies with a hiss, the sizzle of life, bringing moisture to these too dry mountains. On the few puddles, the drops created circles, something missing all winter (left).
Back at the cabin, when I went outside to empty the pail that’s catching water from the roof, I realized everything is soaked—my prayer flags, the ground—and water is dripping from all the gutters and roof. It sounds and feels great.