02 March 2007

The Moulton Journal: Altarwise by Owl Light

"Altarwise by owl-light in the half-way house
The gentleman lay graveward with his furies..." So begins one of my favorite poems by Dylan Thomas.

Full moon ski last night, or close enough. The moon is truly full tomorrow afternoon, but it's good to ski a day or two before since the moon rises an hour or so earlier each day and so you can finish your ski and get to bed at a reasonable time for a 50-some year old. Also, a gang of us are heading to Chico for the weekend: elk steaks are marinating, the snows of Yellowstone are calling, and the hot springs will soothe our winter-stiff bodies.

"Death is all metaphors, shape in one history;"

Don & Andrea Stierle (DnA, given their proclivity toward biochem), my department colleague Bill Macgregor, RTD, and I met in the parking lot last night and did a loop up to Amalgamation Junction, over to Big Flat (aka Moonlight Flats), and back via Neversweat. At about -10 deg F the skiing was a little slow but that's a good thing at night on gentle downhills that can feel like a luge run as the trees close in around you and block the pale light.

"We rung our weathering changes on the ladder..."

Mike Stickney spent several hours grooming the new snow and smoothing our old tracks, bless Mike who seems to be neatly inheriting Paul's role. We wished he could have joined us under the star kissed skies, but I will drop off a 6-pack of Moose Drool at his door on my way out of town today. And so we left new tracks, talked of how the trees have grown up these past 10 or 20 or more years, pondered the changes that will be wrought by the beetle-kill and globabl warming.

"Now stamp the Lord's Prayer on a grain of rice,
A Bible-leaved of all the written woods
Strip to this tree: a rocking alphabet,
Genesis in the root, the scarecrow word,
And one light's language in the book of trees."

We lingered on the tip of Moonlight Flats' finger taking in the view of Butte, counting the stars of the Pleiades, absorbing the dull glow of snowy Mt Powell far down the Deer Lodge valley, feeling the sallow light of Saturn, sometimes lost in private thoughts of our time here in this place. Even RTD sat contemplative, her eyes fixed on some wordless imagining. Someone spoke, "My feet are getting cold," and down through the woods we whooshed to our trucks and thence to homes and beds.

It is March and soon, even in Butte, spring will come. Fishing, backpacking, hunting, and then round the circle back to the snowy moonlit hills.

"Green as beginning, let the garden diving
Soar, with its two bark towers, to that Day
When the worm builds with the gold straws of venom
My nest of mercies in the rude, red tree."

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