The bench is on the west side of the lake. The trail on this side is little more than mud in January’s warm up. The Eastern side has some stone trails that are well cleared and thus, more trafficked. I am alone, for the moment, and commit to listening and little more.
The wind rubs the winter grass stalks at my feet against each other, dry even in the mud. A warm sun would turn them green, but in these short days their rattle is little more than a reminder of summer snakes long asleep in their holes. Prairie dogs bark incessantly at me, at first. My stillness conquers. Eventually, they chatter amongst themselves no more than old women over a mahjong board. Even in the animal kingdom, neighborhoods have their gossips. The jet passes to the north heading up the spine of the Rockies. I think of travel and vacations both taken and imagined, but the real fly boys bring me back, as the geese come trumpeting off the icy lake heading for fields to dine. I marvel at the pattern. Squawking and honking begins until some unknown pitch is hit and then part of the flock suddenly rises and flies off. The length of this flock must be more than a city block. The group that rises comes from one end of the lake to the other. Some of the groups head east, while others to the south, as if they are aware where the group before them headed and know to seek pastures elsewhere.
I can hear the jogger coming for some time as her running shoes slap the surface of the mud. She is breathing hard and there is the faint tinny sound of music coming through earbuds. Another flock takes off and the wind pushes back my hood. Two women cut through the grassy hillside to beat the muddy trail and talk about teenagers with piercings. The longer I sit the more I’m aware I seem to have left the machine. The swaying cattails are riveting compared to nose rings. I wonder, briefly, where this disengagement with the fast moving world will take me, but even that thought seems more intense then this winter sun will allow. I rest back against the bench and listen.