Now is the dead time of the year in Meeker Park, the most quiet and empty. The time of year when summer residents who came up for the holidays are biding their time until the snow melts. Not even a car passes me on the main road, and last week when I hiked the road behind the cabin, there were no human tracks—either cars or people. The cabins up here are closed up for the winter, the only sound coming from them is the snow sloughing off the roofs.
It’s just me and the animals. On my walk, I didn’t see the rabbits, coyotes, bobcats or deer, only their tracks through the snow, which are undecipherable to me. This time of year, with snow still on the ground, it feels like the world belongs more to nature than to humans. My neighbors and I have our cabins, our shelters from the fierce winds and cold temperatures, but outside of them the animals roam in a parallel universe. Last week one morning I heard coyotes howling just down the road. Shortly after, I saw two of these handsome animals, likely a couple, trot through the yard as if they owned it.
Which they do. When I was contemplating a week-long retreat at the cabin, my spiritual teacher said the first thing I should do is ask permission of the trees, the animals and the earth to be there, in their home. We humans tend to take over, see ourselves as the dominant species, but the animals were here, in this valley facing Mount Meeker, before we came in with our cabins, septic systems and satellite dishes.
When I got up Thursday morning, the thermometer registered 9 degrees, but by noon it had warmed up to 40. On sunny days, if the temperatures are above 35, I don’t need to turn on the heat. If I keep the curtains open on the east- and south-facing windows, the sunlight pours in, keeping the living room and kitchen toasty.
The day before, craving being outside, I sat on the side of the house out of the reach of the winds, basking like a cat in the sun’s warmth. Sometimes I’ll open the garage door and sit in the shelter of its walls where the sun can reach me and I can hear the cries of the chickadees and nuthatches. When I went for a walk last week, I saw a kindred spirit—a woman sitting in her garage, her head tilted back, feeling the pleasure of the sun on her face.
I think what we’re craving is not just sun but spring, life coming anew. Is it too early to long for that?