Page 78 - WCM 2022 Winter
P. 78

 Being Present in the Moment
Preparing for Winter Adventure story and photos by William Clunie
  Gary Irwin,
 The Golden-crowned Kinglet is a permanent resident of southern Maine and much of the northeast.
“In every walk with nature,
one receives far more than he seeks.”
~ John Muir
As I sat in the early morning darkness, at five below zero, I watched the eastern sky begin to slowly brighten, and the first rays of sunlight peek over the mountainous horizon. The place was my deer blind, deep in the woods of Western Maine. It had snowed the night before and covered the mountains around Byron with a fresh layer of powder. The blanket of pure white fluff muffled almost every noise, and gave the already soundless atmosphere a crystal-clear stillness that can only be experienced; a dead, surreal silence that can’t be put into words.
I duct taped two plastic milk crates together for my seat, and surrounded the immediate area with an old beech tree that had fallen earlier that autumn. The leaves on a beech tree don’t drop off during the winter, they just turn brown, and make for great camouflage. I was perched right next to a small slash pile of brush, left behind from a logging operation several years ago. Wild game love it when loggers remove mature trees, opening the forest floor to new growth. The deer come here routinely to feed on the sprouting plant life, and now in this bitter cold, they come to eat their winter fare: browse that consists of twigs, and small, dried shoots of young plants sticking up through the first snow of the season.
Situated in this peacefulness, this perfect quietude, I could only imagine how any animal could survive such dramatically frigid temperatures. As I pondered, a demure, yet defiant peep came from below the depths of the slash pile.
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