It’s been a quiet few months on Driftwood Creek. Just snow, snow and more snow. The driveway ploughed and ploughed again, the deck shovelled and shovelled until there was no place to put the snow, the roof shovelled onto flowerbeds, six feet of compacted snow. The snowbanks got so high we couldn’t see the creek, the snow heaped so high on the bridge railings we had to clear openings, one to look up the creek, one to look down.
But in the last week, we’ve seen dippers again. Finally. Sometimes a pair. And the juncos are back, the mountain bluebirds flash their brilliant blue, the robins flock by the dozens, the bell tone of a single varied thrush. Flickers and sapsuckers hammer the house. Hawks cruise the cottonwoods. Along one of the bare slopes of the canyon, about thirty grey-crowned rosy finches – birds we rarely see. Geese overhead, mallards on the melting beaver pond and, of course, cranes.
It is time for the harlequins to return as well. Last year this time they were making out in a pool just above the log jam; this year the creek is still thawing. Last year this time the trail up out of the canyon was open and welcoming; this year it’s a litter of fallen trees and rotten snow. The combination of several years of willow borer and leaf miner in the aspens left them vulnerable to heavy snows and erratic windstorms.
Sometimes we feel the same way. Vulnerable. To illness. Age. Accident. The news is full of bad luck. When big gusts blow through the huge old spruce trees outside my window, I listen for a crack, get ready to run.
But the light brings us back. The silliness of daylight savings is soon washed away in the widening smile, the opening arms, the head thrown back, the crow of light’s laughter. Welcome, welcome light.