Monday, January 04, 2010

The Muir Test

I was up in the mountains visiting the fam over the weekend and a big winter storm trailed in, swallowing roads, trees and houses. I ended up driving back in it and it was awesome to see the surrounding hills and farms just lost in a some hazy winter vision, it makes me think of the old days when shit like a winter storm effected every aspect of your life and had to be me met with stamina and determination. It also reminded me of how much I like to be out in a winter storm. Not just a simple snowfall, but when the snow's slamming against you due to powerful winds and the outside just seems uninhabitable. Back on Christmas day in 2001 I was in Vermont when the area got nailed with such a storm. Around 7pm at night I threw on some wool pants, scarf, jacket, hat and gloves and hiked the mountain behind my house with my dog and real motherfucking OG, Cody. There was a bright enough moon that it lit the whole forest with that surreal underwater light. The snow had a frozen layer on top but was thick and fluffy beneath, making hiking kinda strenuous. All of the birch, maples, and pine swayed and creaked in the frozen wind and it sound like the whole forest was at war. I kept expecting branches to come down around me like I was running through the streets London during the blitz. Despite the ferocity of the storm and its effect on the forest I saw alot of animals out that night and had an amazing time. It reminded me of the story of how John Muir would climb to the top of some of the tallest peaks in the forest and belt himself to their trunks during a storm so that he could experience it right up close. Nuts, but also makes complete and total sense to me. Something about the biological animal experience of the wilderness, when it surpasses the rational mind's panic and preference for caution, and takes over your senses that makes me feel more alive then any other experiences I've ever had. Tell that anecdote to others and gauge their reaction, that's th Muir test, the line between the wild and society, it varies greatly depending on the person, I hope for me it's one day non-existent. Here's my journal entry from that night:

December 25th ’01

Hiking Bear Mountain. The Snow in the air light and delicate
like a lullaby still being sung long after the babies have slept and grown.
Razor thin sheet of ice glazed the the bog water.
The top layer of the fallen snow rests softly on a brittle shelf,
smashing through with my fists, crawling like an ape.
A doe bounds across the upper slope
dancing over frozen debris,
trees cut her movements
like flashes in a kinetescope.
The air is sharp and chill,
I only leave the hat off for fifteen minutes at the most.
I study the land from above, leaping down from a jutting
boulder, plunged into motion. I run without thinking, steering
by gripping at saplings, dogs chase the deer. My feet move
absent from my mind.
I have everything to prove.