It’s still dark. As soon as I get out of the car, my breath turns to vapors in the freezing air. I leave the car behind as if I would leave the safety of a boat and launch myself into the open ocean. But this is why I’m here.
The narrow path takes me across the high rocks overlooking the river. The first sun rays hit the rocks but the river remains in the dark.
I imagine all the life down there, the silver fish flashing by in the cold water, the beavers slowly moving about and adding branches to their dam, the deer coming out of the forest to have a drink of water. The beating heart of the forest, still undisturbed by human presence.
Most of the trees have lost all leaves during the winter, but a few of them have miraculously kept their leaves. In the golden sunlight, they light up red-orange. It’s the afterlife of leaves shining bright for one moment. A string of fires punctuating the river valley.
Everything is clear in my head, but the clarity is so intense that it almost burns. There’s a howl somewhere in the distance and I feel a sudden pang of pain, as if it’s me howling through that animal. As if it’s the howling of all creatures under the sun.
But there’s no time for feeling low. Not here and now. I have this whole day in front of me, I have the sun in my eyes and the birds are singing their sunrise song all around.