I took advantage of a spare bit of time to wander down to the river today. It was a bit chilly to start, but breaking trail through ankle deep snow with a crunchy ice crust soon had me opening zippers and feeling over dressed. This cold snap seems to have put a solid cap on the river. I didn’t see any open water and the ice was quiet other than a couple of barks.
Checking my favorite spot for winter stealthing I found the early, heavy snows had bent a tree ominously over it. With my habit of sneaking out there to ride out blizzards spot selection is vital and it looks like I need to find a new one. Burrowing under the quilt listening to the wind roaring down the river and through the trees is a great feeling, but requires faith that you aren’t going to get crushed. Without that you just have a long, dark night of bracing to catch a few tons of tree every time you hear the wind building. Yup, gonna need to find a new spot!
As I was crunching down the trail on my way back I was busy thinking about a bunch of things. Should I buy those new snow shoes? How fancy do I want to get with this pulk I’m thinking about building? When will the new top quilt be sewn and shipped so I can start trying it out? When will the wind pants I’m supposed to start testing arrive?
Among all the chatter in my head I began to notice something else intruding and then realized it was some squawking that sounded to be in the trees up ahead. The noise continued and grew louder leading me to quickly guess it was a flying commotion; perhaps gulls? Then I saw them flying just above the trees along the river. Three bald eagles side by side sailed towards me and right over my head only stopping their conversation for a moment as they noticed me below and then picking it right back up once they’d flown past.
I stopped for a moment to watch them fly off down the river and then returned to my crunching homeward. My thoughts didn’t return to all those questions though. I was struck by an answer it seemed the eagles had brought me instead. Getting out there, where ever there is, is about being there. For all the time, money and thought we put into our gear it really is only important in that it lets us be out there.
It seems a lot of folks lose focus on the experience in favor of making it all about gear. That makes me feel a little sad when I see it in other people and I realized I’m just as capable of that to some extent. Here I was stomping through the woods on a bright and shiny winter’s day but my thought’s were on anything but where I was.
The eagles may have just been flying home from a late lunch and I’m making too much out of their visit. Maybe Nature herself didn’t send them to remind me to notice how great things are right this very moment rather than endlessly thinking about what comes next. I consider it a valuable reminder where ever it came from. It isn’t about the stuff we’ve got or the stuff we want next. If it was we could just stay home with our piles of stuff. It’s about getting out there, where ever your there is, and being there.
So go, be!