“Think about it, Martha.”

In spite of a mildly torqued knee. a pulled groin muscle, and a limp, I decided to take Bear out to the Refuge. I thought I’d use a cane for stability, but I’d forgotten that is Bear’s job. She’d kind of forgotten that, too, at the beginning of our walk, but she remembered before she did any damage.

The moment I arrived, I noticed the welcoming party.

Welcoming committee…

It was very deer of them to be there, waiting for me, and I was grateful. I took it as a benediction on what I feared was a bad idea, walking Bear when I am physically a little fragile. I sent them my thanks through ASL (which all muledeer understand perfectly) and my friend and I took off slowly, me limping, Bear wanting to smell everything. I didn’t blame her. Even I could see the stories left in the snow.

We went along. I had no idea how far I would go before I couldn’t go, but it turned out that I was able to go almost as far as usual. The only reason I didn’t go all the way is because my mom told me not to, I mean because I’m less stupid and stubborn than I was three days ago. Bear studied scents, rolled in the snow, dug down to where maybe some little creature had burrowed for warmth.

On the way I noticed a large bird in one of the cottonwood trees. Then it went “ooo-hooo” and I realized it was “my” great horned owl. Too far away for a good photo, but when has that deterred me?

I should really take a camera…

When Bear and I turned around, Bear did her lean thing which I interpret to mean, “Thank you Martha,” but it might mean, “Aren’t we going to hunt some more?” We walked along together, my hand on my dog’s back, and I thought, “Is this so bad, Martha? Really, what’s wrong with this? Your best friend is here. Your welcoming committee was waiting for you. The snow is one big mantle of diamonds and stories. And look at that! Look, right in front of you!!”

I did. I stood there and looked at the little grouping of mountains I’ve painted so many times that they’re almost a part of my hand, and I started to cry. “We are hardly a consolation prize,” murmured all the features of the landscape, “And we’re yours. You came here for this and we are here for you. Do you have to live according to some idea of yourself or can’t you just do what we do and BE?”

There were no human footprints anywhere. A couple signs of someone on X-country skis maybe three days ago, but otherwise? As it is most of the year, it was just us, Bear and me and sometimes Teddy, too. I like the cold, the wind, the changes, the tracks, the possibilities of seeing other animals besides me and my dogs. I like what I see going slowly.

So, I will be selling my skis.

28 thoughts on ““Think about it, Martha.”

  1. A wonderful snowy walk –I love that the deer and your owl were there to greet you (all you needed was a crane or two!). In the shot with Bear burrowing, what are the tracks that run diagonally (at a 30 deg angle) across the upper left corner in almost a straight line? There should be more snow coming — we are looking at rain overnight in the first of 3 storms this week! Enjoy it!

    • I think they are a fox’ tracks because they are perfectly lined up, but they aren’t fresh so it’s hard to be sure.. I made peace with my life out there today and I’ve put my skis up for sale.

      • It sounds like a wonderful walk — and you should be able to enjoy many more like it with Bear and Teddy by your side! Life should be much more peaceful now — without the aggravation of our mad ex-President (ooh — that felt good), and without the nagging of a dream that’s not good for you!

        • Yes, exactly. I just stood there in the embrace of that beautiful place and cried it all out while my sweet Bear leaned against my leg. Really, what a place to lose a dream, a place that’s way more than my dream even was.

          • You’ll enjoy the writing, the painting, the wildlife, and your wonderful walks with the dogs, whether in snow or in summer weather. I love the tracks — amazed by the fox tracks being so lined up. Have you ever seen photos of an Arctic fox jumping on its prey? It stalks along, then suddenly jumps and lands on the prey, even if it’s a critter buried deep in snow! Enjoy the Big Empty!

  2. This was a beautiful write. Sorry you are selling your skis. I’ve come to the realization that I will be doing less skiing and more snowshoeing at this point in my life. So much more stable, especially with a set of hiking poles.

    • I’m hoping to get some snow shoes soon. I can maybe even take Bear out with those. I’m very, very, very glad for the day when nature first spoke to me in words so long ago. I know it sounds insane, but it happens. It happened today in a way. If the Big Empty can go through the monumental changes it has through the millennia, I can sell my skis and still have a happy life. And I won’t have to deliberate between being in the snow with my dogs and taking out my skis. ❤ I guess we all have to grow up.

      • I know for me it feels a little sad as I come to the realization that there are some things I love that I need to let go of. I totally get nature speaking to you, and there is still a multitude of ways to enjoy that, and all the better if it is with Bear and Teddy 🙂

  3. Martha–this was such a great post. I’ve it over several times now….I just love it. Bear is a dear–not to be confused with the actual deer. And Bernie….he’s watching you, as is your owl. I think I feel relief that you are selling your skis. I don’t mean that in a bad way, you know?

    • It’s OK. ❤ My body racked up a lot of injuries over the years and I think at this point my life the damage is non-negotiable. If Jean Claude Kiley could be happy walking in the forest, I can be happy walking with my dogs in the Big Empty. Greater skiers than I have hung up their skis when they had to. Bear is wonderful and I love her so very much. AND dog don't live forever, so I think all the time I can spend with her and with Teddy is worth more than going out on a pair of skis when I couldn't really go up in the mountains, anyway.

  4. Your words are beautiful, Martha. You cannot improve on those photos. The blue of the sky awe inspiring, poetic even. In all honesty, I won’t travel overseas again due to my health problems but if I could, I would definitely go there. It would be top of my list.

  5. Hugs Martha. We all find that turning point where decisions are made and when it is right it is an easy decision… Sounds like you got a giant hug from the Big Empty…..

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