I arrived about an hour early.
Negotiating narrow gravel roads and snowdrifts in the dark. My headlights magnified by a billion snowflakes, each one in it's perfect place, resting on the ground and each other. Like a lighted pathway through a wilderness rife with December peace.
I parked at the project site and turned the truck off. Alone, blissfully alone. In an hour, a hundred people and a whirring machine would be here. Our task was to take some of the magic from here and to distribute it to other places so that other souls could share in the beauty. Wild animals, temporarily in our grasp. Renewable beauty and wonder to be shared.
But now I was alone.
I got out of the warm truck and stepped in to the still dawn air. It was the kind of cold that freezes your nose hairs, bites the back of your throat, in a good way, and reminds you of what it feels like to breathe.
The eastern horizon was pale pink over endless rolling hills covered in sage. Hills frozen like giant waves on the ocean for millions of years. Witnessing mornings like this, just waiting and being and giving life to the creatures that thrived here.
Not a breath of wind. Not a sound except the peaceful hum of silence.
I stood still and watched the day break, afraid to disturb it. Feeling like a part of what was happening, like a part that was welcomed and belonged. Everything reached toward me and by simply observing and appreciating I reached back and connected.
A foot of day old snow smoothed the contrasts, made it all fit seamlessly. Short drifts extended from each sage brush like jet streams extending from a plant that never seemed to move.
I watched the subtly changing light change the colors and shadows. Soon the blazing ball would flood the mountain with light and energy. For now it was indirect but integrated in to dawn, the mountain, the place. The light's intensity slowly increasing like rising excitement, excruciatingly slow but full of promise and certainty. The promise would be kept, the excitement would turn in to joy. The joy of another day. I was patient, still, quiet, drinking in the anticipation, savoring every moment.
The more distant hills came in to view with the gathering light. I could make out the pronghorn two ridges away. They wee still. I shared that morning with them. I considered their existence and how natural this was for them to experience. I wondered if they experienced appreciation for this grandeur or if just being was enough. Then the answer was abundantly clear. My mind went back to rest and I took more of the place and time in.
I could hear the trucks coming. An hour had passed in a blur. I felt rested and focused.
I disconnected and returned to the project, my friends, coworkers and interactions that were required to accomplish our task.
The mountain did not let go. I felt the peace of our communion all day as I worked there.
I have returned there many times in my mind. I found something there. Another piece to the answer, another piece to me.