When I was twelve, I found a mink swinging from a snare. We were taught to be careful of traplines, but this one was unmarked. That mink, silver wire biting its neck, was the first sign that someone other than ourselves had traveled up the creek.
I’ve seen death, before and since, but something about that mink and its empty eyes, its head at an angle no head should sit, has stuck with me through the years.
I’ve also remembered that space behind the mink, the soft sound of running water, continuing impervious to the drama on its banks.
Impervious to either death or life, its course set and maintained long after my passage.
It’s been a strange year.
One of my favourite comfort writers once said that there were people who placidly moved through life, taking each day as they came. Then there were those who experienced all the highest heights of sensation that the world had to offer, but the price that they paid was that they also experienced all the lowest depths.
I wonder sometimes about the lives I don’t live, but I accept the valleys that I might scale the mountains.
It’s certainly been a year with plenty of both.
I think sometimes that it is easy, in both life and writing, to focus on one or the other – the dead-eyed mink or the impervious cheer of the running water.
But as I think of the most powerful moments of my life, it is the intersection of the immovable and the transient that have held me, have shaped my own life and thoughts.
I followed the stream bank today, back past the mountain shadow and deep into the canyon.
There were no bloody footprints, no signs of a desperate, stilled struggle.
Even in their absence, I know that there are always snares, unexpected.
I stood for a long time on the bank and watched the water move.
I am still standing.
The river runs.
It has been a year worth remembering. I hope that it has passed well for you.
If you would like to see more of my writing, my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor is available here.