From the car, the forestland drained by Eagle River looks like it is posing for a Christmas card. Snow clings to the spruce to weigh down the dark green boughs. But appearances are misleading thanks to the above-freezing temperature and light rain. Inside the woods, the trees shed their snowy frosting in drips and the occasional cascade. We try not to stop under any overhanging branches. The big drops of snow startle Aki.
Gray pools of wet snow grow beneath the larger spruce trees and will soon transform into bare ice. Our warm, wet weather is killing the ski trail, which adds spice to our visit. I feel that same mixture of excitement and anxiety that hits in life drawing class as I try to nail down the geometry of a human face before the model flinches. In class, the tension brings energy to the drawing. Today, in these woods, I wonder if it heightens my senses. Deep in the forest I spell the perfume of Balm of Gilead that cottonwoods released on warm spring days. Has the weight of a cottonwood’s snowy jacket cracked open one of next spring’s leaf buds or am I enjoying the sweetest hallucination?