The Muddy River looks like a lunar landscape now. The sun, partially hiding behind clouds, is a ghost-like orb in the sky. Perhaps it is a magnificent ball of fire hurtling through space, dragging its orbital children with it. This is what we are told, but on a day like this, it is only a spiritual spectre. A shadow. A presence. An apparition.
A single set of tracks leads out across the snow on the frozen river. I checked them and they’re deer tracks. There may have been a small bit of plant material at the edge of the river where I was standing that made the trip necessary. It’s a difficult time of year for the forest creatures, and oftentimes they must rely on the fat they stored up throughout the summer.
|Single tracks across the frozen river.|
How odd. We humans do our best to avoid becoming fat (at which we fail abysmally), and the forest creatures do their best to become as fat as they possibly can. This is because they know that lean times are ahead, and the best place to store food is on your own body. You never know who might find a secret cache of food you stored in the woods, but when it’s on your own body, it’s like added insurance. When the forest creatures build their layer of fat, something they work very hard at doing, they are very satisfied and content. It’s like money in the bank.
Actually, it’s better than money in the bank. A lot better. Money in the bank is really just paper. These days, it’s just a digital blip on a computer screen. As long as you can withdraw (or digitally transfer) that money for goods, you’re fine. But on the day you cannot do so--and that day is coming--the best insurance to have would be a nice layer of fat. How wise the animals are to know this instinctively!
But I do not make light of their suffering in the winter, and they do suffer, at least from a human’s point of view. Times are lean now, and they do the best they can. Sometimes the best they can do is not enough, but it is still the best they can do. So they plod onward and draw upon their insurance. It’s a plan the Great Alchemist gave them when they were first being formed. In those days, they had a say in the final contract. Both have kept their sacred agreement.
I hope she found a snack on the river’s edge, the sweet little deer who wandered across. When I saw her prints in the snow and viewed the great fireball through the clouds, I found my own sustenance as well. Like the deer, I have stored up my spiritual sustenance. It will have to do for now. I am doing the best I can do.