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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.

About the Author
Elissa Pfost has always straddled the art/science, right-brain/left-brain fence, so paying the bills as an artist and writer seemed a good way to stay connected to both worlds. “Science and art both require keen observation skills,” she says, “and when I'm bearing witness to wild things doing wild stuff in the wild, it doesn’t feel like work.” Happiest running mountain ridges, surfing dawn glass, and practicing acroyoga, she currently nests in a little town on the Oregon and Washington border.