The signs

Hit and Miss #79

The people along the sand
All turn and look one way.
They turn their back on the land.
They look at the sea all day.

The land may vary more;
But wherever the truth may be—
The water comes ashore,
And the people look at the sea.

Robert Frost’s “Neither Out Far Nor In Deep” comes to mind on the Ottawa River pathway below Parliament. To one side is a steep hill covered by trees; to the other is a flat stretch of water.

I often wonder why I’m drawn to the water instead of the hill. Perhaps its perpetual motion, its constant drive forward, speaks to me when I’m feeling directionless.

When the river froze this year, with snow covering the ice, I turned from the river toward the hill—from the water to the land. I scanned the hill for signs of life all winter, seeking a chipmunk or a squirrel or a bird, some hint of activity that the river’s moving water would otherwise provide.

I had little success until recently. In the past few weeks, I’ve seen and heard life on that hill. Twice in the last week, alone and with friends, I stopped to watch woodpeckers among the trees. (I think there’s something to learn from an animal that repeatedly bangs its head against a tree, though I can’t yet articulate the lesson.)

Despite today’s ugly snow, the season is changing. Yesterday’s morning walk began on ice, moved through slush, and ended in puddles. The hour jumping forward and yesterday’s melt are signs of spring, and all that season brings.

I’m not ready for winter’s end, but time moves on regardless—it’s time to catch up, ready or not. All the best for the week ahead.