The mountains look like the land got angry, rose up furious, hardened, then quieted back down. They are my favorite part of the world. Today, a storm, t-shirt thick, dressed the snowiest peak and pulled itself over the town. Tonight, the sky is charcoal blue with an electric ridge of brighter light surfing the summits from the Flat Tops up to Craig. Inside, where I'm drinking tea and reading about Zambian war and heat, a flat fountain blips its water down a green sedimented slide into a pile of rocks and brings it back up to the top again without urgency. I wonder why comfort has this guilty edge jutting out from the warmth of doing nothing. The cat sleeps at my feet with his hind legs spread and aside each ear. If I nudge him with my calf, he puts his claws into my sweatpants gently like “please don't move me.” So I don't, so here we are, just listening and watching. I am not fooled though; I know it is easier for cats to be quiet, to better appreciate slower seasons.
There is a house I love here, just down the steep hill, with an attic and smooth river stones for its sides. The house is narrow and tall, with a row of five crowded windows peeping curiously over the front porch which wraps over the rock walk-out basement in back. There are two horses by the little backhouse who look dumb, noses hung sleepily over the snow. I thought it was just the two idling, thinking, not thinking, whatever it is that horses do in winter all day, when this burst of movement broke out in the field and a new philly was skating across the pasture with its dark tail held out horizontal to the hoof-marked snow.
I watch him from behind the glass that covers one side of this slow house. On each wall, there are pictures and sounds of thick rivers cutting through mud canyons. Everyone who was here last night for New Years Eve, including the 17-year-old named Welcome who woke me up in my sleep by looking at me and who called himself a Wizard, has left. What's left in the mountains when no one's talking or skiing or talking about skiing is peace and sound. Sarah started a pot of water and it hissed from the open kitchen. The baby horse went back in its house. I drifted into a late afternoon nap under a puffy mohair blanket.
Earlier today, at the top of Emerald Mountain, the sky was split like it looked from the house, only closer, colder, etching its power into my skin through the wind. Orange leaves clinging to twigs stuttered with small sounds on the way down and I wondered if we are, at every moment, either watching or being watched. It was almost unsettling for me to hear everything without a language of response. A friend of mine writes: Entre dicho y hecho hay arto estrecho—There is a long road between said and done. I think that might be because we tend to say too much.
I fill a bath and heat up ice cold water for more tea. A small bug navigates his way across the granite ridge of the counter, making small circles like a happy horse or a hair spinning on a wet surface. The hiss comes from the teapot, the cat claws the front door to come back in, the philly's tail has just disappeared again into the caramel barn as I sit to soak and think about life in winter–everywhere, just quieter.