With rising spirits after an emotionally punishing week, I decided to take a walk down to see whether there was any progress at the eagle’s nest and the heron colony. The morning was downright raw; the air alive with the coming snowstorm. Fortunately, I was having one of those “yeah, it’s cold, so?” days where I actually enjoyed the wind and the chill.

I walked to the end of the road, to the property of the friendly neighbor who has kindly given me permission to trespass at will, the place with the best (and only) views of the nest and the colony. Silence, there. Silence. An intrepid fisherman on the swift water, but nothing, no one, else.

I love it there. Not so much the sheltered space from which to look…not even so much the lovely natural stone steps my neighbor-friend had laid to ease the way down his steep property. It’s the knowledge that this is the end of it–at least as far as my eyes can see: the no-more-people, the absence of thoughts, the space that still belongs to the critters, no matter what else we’ve done upriver. Silent earth with the loud voices of creature footprints. Eagles that perch closer than human activity usually allows.

The snow had started by the time I began my walk back. Not so much snow as tiny white ice pellets that tick-ticked against my hat. The sound of snow. And my breathing. And my footsteps. The sound of an absolutely perfect moment. And, if it could have made a noise, the sound of my smile.