Jan. 16, 2005

The first I noticed it was getting light was as we were coming up out of Mill Creek valley and out from under the forest canopy. The cloud cover was a solid blanket over everything, and the first thing that struck me was that the sky was light from east to west, and just as light in one as the other. The second thing was that the cloud cover seemed to almost glow with a soft blue light, and it was beautiful to be going up that mountain under those clouds. Then as the road topped the hill, we could see in the east that the clouds were pink in a thin strip on top of the hills at least a third of the way around the edge of the sky, from northeast to southwest, and then I knew we were in the right place.

We hurried along Fly Gap Road to a pullover, then walked down the hillside through a boulder field and a broken bluff, then veered to a certain rock outcrop with a three-trunked stunted oak growing out of it. Then for the next half hour or so I took photographs while Junie prowled and kept watch.

When we both thought we were finished, I packed up the gear and started back up the hill, but before we had gone ten steps I looked back to see that creases were beginning to open up in the clouds, sending shafts of light down through the hazy air to the surrounding hills and the valley below us. Gentle reader, do I have to say I unpacked the gear again?
Later still, the cloud cover broke up more, and a brisk north wind sent white clouds hurtling and tumbling south through a blue sky. And as I packed up again, I noticed for the first time that this was an ice-beard morning, that my breath had frozen in my whiskers and moustache, and looking out across the valley towards the sun, I could see thousands of tiny falling snowflakes shimmering in the sunlight, and I laughed for joy to see such a thing, and to have ice in my beard here on this hilltop on such a morning.