Remember when, a mere two months ago, I said I hate the wind? That I’m afraid of it, I dislike being in it, that it’s a little spooky. On and on and on about how much I didn’t like the wind. Well, friends, I’m here to tell you that it’s still true. How do I know? I went on a hike in the Gorge, climbed up a steep bony outcrop to stand a thousand feet above the river, in a gale force wind. Sometimes I have to learn lessons the hard way, and apparently more than once.
I have a confession to make: I turned around on a hike last weekend. I know, I know. I’m supposed to have grit. I take a certain amount of pride in the way I can tough things out, stick with it, grin and bear it. But on Saturday, after three-quarters of a mile, I called it quits. Even though it was hardly a hike, just a nature walk through the woods. Even though I’d seen photos of my friend doing it the weekend before. Even though I really wanted to stand at the base of the waterfall we were heading for, feel the thunder of it clearing my head and coursing through my veins. Even with all of that, I still said “let’s go back”.
Sometimes, to me, it feels like the liminal space between Christmas and New Year’s can feel like an eternity. Like we’ll be forever in the rut between the excitement and chaos of holiday celebration and the anticipation of the new year and the real return to normalcy. I’m in that gray area now, hovering suspended between diving back into work and the new year brimming with good intentions and the deactivated brain state I turned on with the first real party of Christmas weekend. I’ve slowly been dragging myself back into answering emails and thinking about what responsibilities I have come spring…but I can’t quite make myself believe that I have to do it yet. That’s for after New Year’s.
The other day I was driving with a friend, trying to explain why I decorated my house for Christmas. It came up as a part of a larger conversation about the commercialization of the season, how many resources—of time, money, energy, not to mention the other tangibles: trees and wrapping paper and Christmas lights—were consumed every year by Americans getting into the spirit of the season. Was it worth it? we wondered. Is there value in investing in the appearance of Christmas?
He was barely a dot below me, a tiny smudge of movement on the ridge across from us, so small and hidden that it took all my concentration to pick Ryan out. His dogs were like fleas from there, running so frenetically and steadily, covering so much ground, they almost appeared to be jumping from place to place. There they were, sniffing ahead on the trail, then suddenly they’d be hip-deep in sagebrush, then another blink and they were causing through a rocky patch on the ridge. They’d just busted a covey of chukar, we watched them fly for the river below us, scattering as they went. I swear I watched them all the way down but still wasn’t quite sure where they landed, my eyes still green to this kind of bird watching. But my dad thought he saw, and the dogs knew, and so that was where Ryan was going. We were standing watching, waiting for my Uncle to crest the ridge above us after checking out a different spot from where we came up. And that was when we saw the eagle.