There is no beginning, and there is no end. The sun rises, and falls, each day, and the seasons come and go. The days, months, and years alternate through sunshine, rain, hail, wind, snow, and frost.
– James Rebanks, The Shepherd’s Life
What I dream about is calling the place where the water runs by moonlight home. Home home. Not just the home of my heart, but the home where I rest my head at night. Where I return to after long journeys home. Where both the morning and the evening sun touch my face home.
I dream of dots of golden light shining from the hills – beacons saying, “here is a place of warmth and life.” I dream of falling asleep to the west wind blowing softly through the wind, to the yips of coyotes and the hooting of the owls who have always lived in the barn and always will. I dream of a house on the hill, and me living in it. And perhaps not just me. A family, all my own. Living in the house on the hill. Living with the great privilege of watching the seasons pass, one after the other, on and on.
I dream of the snugness of a winter’s night. I dream of the freshness of a spring morning. I dream of the stillness of a summer’s night. I dream of the crispness of a fall morning. I dream of knowing the deer that bound over the hills, of the hawks that wheel above, of the countless critters that scurry. I dream of the first crocus of the year just outside the door, and the heady scent of the wolf willow, and the bright, peeping faces of Black-Eyed Susans. I dream of a house on the hill. In the hills. My hills. Home.
March and April were miserable, but thankfully we got that snow, otherwise things would be looking pretty desperate around here in this thirsty land. The winds and heat of the past couple days made quick work of any standing water. I’ve been monitoring the runoff up at my place. The part of the road that the spring runs underneath was washed out just a few days ago, a puddle almost halfway up my calves just the other day. Then I had to leave for a couple days for work on the road – the drying days of wind and sun. So last night, with the nearly full moon high in the sky, I decided to drive up there to see what was what. With the bright moon and my headlights I could see, as I made my ponderous, bumping way up the rough track, that the deep puddles were completely dried up. But when I cut the engine and stepped out into the howling night, even above the wind I could hear the sweet, vitalising sound of the spring, still running.
Its modest, energetic course glistened in the moonlight as it ran down the hillside, burrowing deep into its own channel before being diverted by a man-made culvert under the road to spread itself into the hay meadow on the other side. The place where the grass is green and lush all summer long, even when the hills around have dried up to golden brown. At some point, probably fairly soon the way the weather is going, the spring will slow to a bare trickle. It will not run anymore, unless we get a good shot of rain. But it’s there, giving itself away by that profuse growth of grass. Giving life.
I held my hand to its silvery moonlit water. It flowed busily and coolly, indifferent to me. There’s many, many things I love about my place, the Sidehill, but of all of them, I think it’s the spring I love most.