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Measures of being alive

January 7, 2010

This morning I noticed the brilliance of an after-snowstorm day, the way the snow sparkles bright and white on everything around: the ground, the trees, the rooftops, my truck. I noticed the steam rising from the buildings in Lame Deer, hinting at attempts to stay warm on the frigid but sun-splashed morning.

This afternoon I noticed the productive feeling of being back at work, and the eagerness to begin a new semester. I noticed the pretty tapestry, the handmade table-top teepee, and the photographs that adorn my workspace and make it welcoming. I also noticed the weary look on a colleague’s face, the retreat in his eyes, as he told me about the several deaths that occurred on the reservation over the holiday season.

When I ran into Leroy at the cafe, I noticed the glee and discernment that always blends in his eyes, giving away the rich spirit and concern for his people that he always shrugs off with his standard “doing a whole lot of nothing” response to what he’s been up to. I notice how much Leroy cares.

I noticed how exuberantly excited Star was to go on a hike with me today – how could I not when she almost knocks me over with it?! I noticed again the brilliance of the sun washing over the snow-covered valley as I hiked up to the top of Charging Horse Hill. I noticed the tufts of bitter root, sage, and sumac poking up through the snow, the last clinging leaves of the sumac burning a fiery red in the sun. I noticed the way the snow settled on top of the yucca pods, such that the pods and snow together looked like deviled eggs with the color scheme reversed: a gold base with a fluffy white filling.

As I sit and type this entry, I notice how the sky is changing colors outside my window, from a bright blue to a pale blue and yellow, to a deep, dark blue as the sun retreats. I notice how the snow, too, changes color from a bright white to a glowing bluish hue. I notice the warmth of my tea as it slides down my throat, warming my body after a hike in the cold.

If I wanted to measure how alive I feel, I would tell you how much I noticed in a given day.

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