Posted by: highmountainmuse | July 9, 2009

Life and death on the mountain

In winter, there is little change on the mountain.  She remains dormant; she sleeps; she is silent, still and frozen.

Now in summer the game of life and death is played out on her slopes and valleys each day.  Like a snake she shed her skin daily, new beginnings and endings, playing out the cycle of life with each inhale and exhale of the summer winds.

We learn to accept, to let go, to adjust.  Holding on holds us back to a time and place that is no longer.  She changes so swiftly, often in subtle ways; we notice so little.

Looking at the fresh morning through dead trees

Looking at the fresh morning through dead trees

The hillside above the Ditch is laden with dead standing spruce from the ravages of beetle kill.  Stark red and grey majestic spires shading a hillside I expected to be green. The sight saddened me at first.  Until I spent so much time in those woods and found the beauty in the lacy branches freed of their needles, dripping with the soft tangles of the old mans beard lichen, a soft and lush and secret forest.

And new life there if plentiful, with the fresh forest growing within the shelter of the old, protected and private, that perhaps we would not see if we were not there within her arms tiptoeing across the soundless forest floor to see the nursery’s bounty in the shade of the mature and once mighty dead trees.

We returned from Ditch Camp to find one of the blue bird boxes knocked over by a bunch of range cows or the folks that come up to mountain to hoot and holler behind them.  At first I was filled with sadness.  I was responsible for providing and failing these birds. Each of the four boxes I had put up was chosen by a pair of bluebirds; each I assume was filled with new life.  This one, now broken on the ground, had three tiny eggs still wrapped in the soft nesting.  I placed the eggs, probably too late now, under the dove in my kitchen who is contentedly sitting on her own eggs. 

A pair of swallows building their nest in an old bluebird box

A pair of swallows building their nest in an old bluebird box

I rebuilt and moved the box, and await a new family to find it.  The following day as I washed the dishes I watched a pair of swallows move into the old bluebird box in front of my kitchen window.  They have claimed it for their home, perhaps the same couple who has been there for several years, I wonder. We await the new life that promises to emerge shortly.

We participate in the game of life and death on this mountain.  How much are we responsible for?  Or is it easier to just observe and stay apart? 

We take the risk of being part of the mountain. It comes with sadness and loss at times.  It is replaced by joy and birth other times.  The pendulum continues to swing, now with a steady rapid rhythm.  And in winter, it seems to stand still.  Ah, but it moves, so slowly, it moves.



  1. I may write a better resonce to your story but right now its hard to see the key board through tears . life is sometimes hard but there may be light at the end of the tunnel

  2. What beautiful scenes you look at each day. I may come visit you sometime as I know, beautiful as they might be, pictures are never as spectacular as the real thing.

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