Winter’s Eve

northern exposures, Reflections

looking southwest across the Yukon

It is a chilly 27 below outside our cabin. If I go now, I can catch the last light over the Yukon.

I don extra layers. First, a felt lined canvas shirt followed by a woolen neck scarf to warm the chest. Next, an insulated sweatshirt zipped up and over the scarf, a solid seal against leakage. Up goes the hood, down goes a neck gator over it and around my face to hold the hood snug against my ears and warm my breath. I am a masked man dressed in black.

Arctic-weight woolen socks and felt-lined boots, jeans tucked in and heavy lined snow pants pulled down around them. Ultralight liners (NASA thermals gifted me by Virginia) under serious mittens. Twenty minutes and I am ready. I would never wear such precautionary dress just to walk to school, but I want to take my time and walk the river road today.

I’m at the river by 3 pm but already the light is fading fast. It would have been better a half hour ago. I tramp through deep snow to get closer to the bank, my winter gear impregnable to the cold and damp. A raven glides past overhead, out over the river. Blackbirds flutter out of the willows and the pulse of their wings beat through the air like drums. No other sound breaks the turning of the earth. A low fog bank lies over the main channel, far offshore. There must be open water out there. I have time only for a few quick shots before the sky mutes to gray, then I turn and walk the river road a ways.

Thanksgiving is a day past. Outside, the world scurries about in a frenzy of buying and selling. But here, all is still and silent and I am grateful for it.


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