Sunday, March 8, 2009

Midnight moonlight

Midnight in March, just two or three days from the full moon. The last full moon we can appreciate in Alaska until September arrives. In April, the days are so bright and long that the moonlight dissipates, disappears in the eternal twilight. But tonight, I have tonight. We got about 20 inches of new snow this past week. The biggest snowstorm since 1970 has just left us with huge quilts of puffy smooth snow. The wind blew for a full day, lifting and piling the snow into berms as tall as houses. There are curves sculpted in the yard, against the house, adorning the edges of the woods. The snow in the woods is deeper than the dogs, so they stick to the trails and paths they have already worn. Without snowshoes, the snow comes to my waist, so I too, stay on the trails to feed the birds, potty the dogs. Even with this latest snow, we know spring is near. There are unmistakable signs that even the blizzard cannot hide. Three dozen redpolls at the feeder. Daylight at 7:00 PM even during the storm. The heaviness of the snow, the size of the flakes, as large as coins and nearly as weighty.

This night, the first clear night in a week, Orion stalks our southern sky. The Three Sisters clutch at the spruce trees as they spin overhead. Polaris dips below the birches in the north, the Big Dipper wheels a full circle, dumping out its milky contents onto the universe at near morning. I startle awake as if something cold splashed on my face. Just the puppy, nudging me to take her out for an early morning potty. The bird feeder is empty; in the half twilight, I fill it, and sleepy chirps surround me. The puppy and I stumble back to our bed, snooze for another three hours until Kayt wakes. Spring may not be here yet, but the shift is apparent. The snow has stopped falling, and the moon casts purple shadows across the drifts, the steep valleys, the sharp clefts, the sudden and shocking rises where yesterday there was smooth plain. I dreamed about Ben and Jay and all the good young men we love in their shirt sleeves building stout cabins on our land. Life is good.

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