by Elissa Pfost
Heart of Winter 2009
An hour in, and I’m already starting to feel the cold. Even with the rare sun. Even encased in 6mm of neoprene. And booties. And gloves. And a hoody. It took a half an hour just to suit up. But it’s been well worth it: no one was out when I got in, and I needed that solitude to get used to this place without adding people to the equation. I’m literally testing the waters of the state I now call home: Oregon.
There’s a small crew out now, and I’m anxious about how they’ll respond to my presence. Droplets dent the glassy slick of the water nearby, and I look up, wondering at the source on this cloudless day – an osprey, shiver-shaking mid-flight and post-dive, grasps her squirmy cargo. My eyes follow her to a shoreline snag, and there, she settles in to breakfast in the company of at least 30 salmon-sated bald eagles, their white heads dotting the viridian cutaway shag of ancient trees. Encouraged, I position myself for the incoming bumps.