Posted by: highmountainmuse | October 28, 2009

Tucked away

the yard in an early morning snow

Looking in the yard in an early morning snow

They say a big storm is coming. We say, let it snow. We stir with anticipation and spend the day preparing, too excited to come in even after dark.  Tools, piles, stuff, junk – anything left out will be covered for the next six months. Four feet under, covered in a smooth, white all encompassing casket which encloses the mountain for miles and miles.

I am glad to have it gone, picked up, put away.  It is clean, neat, tidy.  There is a peace in that, in knowing everything is in its place. Safe for the season.  You decide what will be needed, what you can do without. Some of it I will not want to see again even in the spring.  But you better know where stuff is, and how to tuck it away.

Otherwise, it is buried alive.

Will this be it?  The big one to tuck us away for the season, to close our road and open our concealed vast white expanse of winter wonderland?

I don’t think so.  But fools we would be to be caught unprepared.  Do we challenge the mountain or ride on her waves?

The ritual of tucking away for winter, as natural as the change of seasons and as old as time. It was never more apparent than the years we had to pull the bridge before high waters would wash the timbers down river.  A ritual if any that claimed winters presence.  There from the high waters of the Pacific Northwest’s November rains, an average of 68 inches rainfall in a matter of months. Mud slides would close the road.  The bridge would block access to the cabin beyond. High waters, raging and fierce, so frightening I would not get near and hold back the dogs, did for me then what the snow does now. We would wait until the waters of the creek were touching the logs crossing the expanse.  Every year, putting off the inevitable as long as we could, then be out there scrambling in the drenched ground and soaked timbers with slick footing, grasping with wet and frozen fingers at the sodden, slippery planks.  Always just in time…

And here we await the ritual of the closing of the road, giving in to the inevitable heavy mountain snows. Leaving our trucks by the plowed section. Farewell to the easy access and a town trip, there and back, in one day. Suddenly it is easier to stay home.  Where would you rather be? 

A closed road, followed by a forced hibernation. 

You may at first look at this as unnatural.  But I believe it is not.  It is, perhaps, as natural as the rain or snow… We humans may have the extra baggage to care for, from bridges to tools and piles of, ah, junk… but is it any different than the bear or squirrel or Stellar Jay who knows food will be scarce, travel nearly impossible, and  does what it takes to prepare themselves, to tuck themselves away?

We are tucked away.  We are safe. The fire is crackling and the world outside in the first light of the day shows me nothing but white.  We await the snow and anticipate the inevitable change and allow the calm, quiet white world to become all that we see and do.



  1. What a glorious “hibernation” you have! It has always been a dream of mine to be snowed in, out in the wild, to see if I could make it. Your comment about knowing where things are stuck in my mind because I had to borrow some wire cutters from your shed on my trip last summer. Beka pointed me to the tools and said to take what I needed. Even though the tools were not in any apparent order, when I returned them, I put them back EXACTLY where I found them because I knew someone knew “where stuff is.” Your story today makes me think we could all apply your “tucking away” to our lives wherever we live. We would be better for it.

  2. It is not as hard as you’d think, Shelly. More a matter of trying to keep on hand the things you know you’ll need, and learning to do without some other things. Keeping it simple.
    As for knowing where stuff is… that seeming chaos of the tool shed… I think that’s the real thing: true chaos. I know it’s rare I can find what I’m looking for in there right off the bat!

  3. It’s beautiful Gin! It’s hard to believe that it’s that time again. I remember when your snow melted. I think we are in for a snowy winter in Maryland. The rain this year has not stopped and I don’t think it’s going to come Dec, Jan & Feb it will just take on a beautiful appearance. Keep warm!

  4. was driving down a wild and congested stretch of highway today feeling the insane busy-ness of my world and thought of you and yours. such contrasts. you are profoundly busy but it has such a wonderful rhythm to it i long for, a unity with nature i envy. i had not read this yet. i scoop it up like the feast it is, realizing how much i long to be away from the writhe of these exhaust fumes and sirens choking out the earth, challenging me to remember my roots. it’s a comfort to find you here, that river flowing along singing songs of life.

  5. Ruth, I understand! My roots were there – in the city, in the suburbs – stifling, twisted, jammed into a space I knew I did not belong. I had to break free from those roots to find what was right for me. Except the strong and stable connection with my family, there is no draw backwards. It’s easier that way on one hand, harder on the other. Everything was new, no direction, no path except the one I beat down getting here. I have set down and allowed my roots to spread in the mountains – here, where I was before, where I will be next. You have your roots, I can feel them, I see them, they pull you as strongly as my home brings me back. You can try to wander, and they tighten, don’t they? Pull you back to where you need to be. Once again, no matter how far away, so close, so much the same.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: