The sunsets here are often lovely, but this one was gorgeous. The reflected glow brushed the trees and the snow with a pinky-golden color. It's cold this morning--a couple of degrees below zero--and snowing lightly. There were turkeys around the bird feeder this morning, deer on the mountain, and elk in the valley below, grazing with the cattle. A neighbor with an elk permit shot one in early December and gave us some of the meat. Last night, a couple of friends came over for lasagna, made with the elk meat. It was wonderful, and as we ate, I thought of the elk and blessed it for the gift of its meat--for becoming a part of my life. I no longer eat factory-farmed meat, and felt grateful that I was able to share in the life of an animal that has so intimately inhabited this land. It helps me feel rooted, in place.
If eating elk bothers you, please know that these marvelous animals (like the beaver, the wolves, and other wild creatures) were once completely extirpated from the southern Rockies.The herd has been restocked by forest managers and the number of animals must be controlled so there's enough grazing for them in the high mountains. Lacking sufficient numbers of wolves (the elk's only predators), hunters do the controlling. The Pecos Wilderness only looks totally free and wild. Like all our modern "wildernesses," it is heavily managed.
I'm wrapping up my winter break and getting ready to head home to Texas early next week. I've loved being here by myself in the snow, but I'm missing Bill and thinking about the garden. It'll soon be time to sow seeds under the lights for early-spring transplants. I'll be home this April, which is good--last year, we were on book tour nearly all month, and I couldn't do garden things that needed doing.
Book report. Working on MOURNING GLORIA, nearly half finished with it. Turned in the copyedited manuscript of THE TALE OF OAT CAKE CRAG. Lots of wonderful time for reading, and I've gone through a tall stack of books about this area, with the idea of doing some writing about it in 2011. This year is pretty well scheduled already.
Reading note: To inhabit a place means literally to have made it a habit, to have made it the custom and ordinary practice of our lives, to have learned how to wear a place like a familiar garment, like the garments of sanctity that nuns once wore.The word habit, in its now-dim original form, meant "to own." We own places not because we possess the deeds to them, but because they have entered the continuum of our lives.--Paul Gruchow