Winter Quiet

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Aki and I leave Chicken Ridge early, before the scheduled start of the Women’s March. In a half-an-hour our escape route down Main Street will be blocked. The sun crowns above Pt. Salisbury, infusing wispy clouds above the channel with Easter-egg colors. It’s cold and windy but the little dog and I are dressed for it and the colder temperature we will have along the Eagle River.

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The big meadow that feeds migratory birds Spring and Fall wears a new covering of snow, untracked except for those left by a cross country skier and a clutch of snowshoe hares. One bald eagle skulks near the meadows edge where it searches the riverbanks for food. Small lines of surf roll up river and the incoming tide lifts and cracks new ice. We have to take a long detour around the normally dry meadow channel because chucks of heavy ice now slosh against each other on tidal water.

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This early (It’s sunrise) I expect solitude but we meet a group of young woman chattering and sliding over the new snow on skis. They fill the air with something like tropical bird song, a impression reinforced by the flash and color of their hi-tech clothes. Soon winter-quiet returns. The sun breaks over a forested hill to sparkle the new snow and the great blocks of river ice stranded on the meadow by the tide. In the forest I find a single high bush cranberry set to glowing by a streak of sunlight that managed to penetrate the old growth. Made sweet by the winter freeze, it tastes as good as it looks.

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