if to download them onto an unseen screen. When the chocolate eyes meet mine, they soften into a smile that deepens the half-suns at their corners. We hold each other’s gaze, allowing ourselves to fall into each other’s silent embrace. Light and love exude from these precious portals, no fear. Only joyous anticipation, gratitude, and love. As always. The small giant in the bed in front of me has reached her threshold in this lifetime. There is nothing left to say. Only one question remains: When will the veils lift?
I leave hospice care in peace. Each of my cells, however, craves for movement, aches to feel alive. Within an hour I find myself on one of my favorite trails.
Winter holds its own unique treasures. Stillness is one of them. Today, familiar surroundings are hidden behind veils that overlap each other. Each layer consists of a different thickness. Each one is in constant motion at various speed. In split seconds, path, trees, underbrush appear and disappear in swaths of white. They sway in front of me, surround me, swallow me until I become part of this dream-like scenery. They slither through all layers of my clothing until I feel their icy bite. I am in awe of this ever changing spectacle, I barely look down at the uneven path. I can rely on my brain. After years of hiking here, it has recorded landmarks and the positions of root traps. Close to the lake, the cold intensifies. So do the veils. Uneasiness creeps up my spine. I feel watched. I look to my right where I believe to have noticed a shadow dive behind fallen trunks. Was it my imagination or did I indeed make out briefly a pair of narrow yellow-brown eyes? I stop walking. Listen with intent. If there was a sound, the fog padded it. Right now, there is only silence –and veils as thick as before.
I am about to move on when a sound from farther away grabs my attention. My heart skips a beat in recognition. Of course! They are here! Nothing is a better indication for the onset of winter or spring than their arrival. They come twice a year and honor us temporarily with their presence before their instinct tells them to leave. They usually choose the cover of fog for arrival and departure. From far, their calls sound like the excitement of yelping puppies or kids playing. I wonder whether the veils might part long enough for me to get a glimpse of trumpeter swans today. I pick up my pace and leave the prairie that sleeps to my right. The path descents back into the woods. At its very bottom, it leads alongside the lake. I noticed a couple days ago, that the lake’s ice cover has already cracked at several spots, exposing a labyrinth of corridors and pools in the gigantic body of water. Islands of ice as ideal natural protection for swans from shore and land predators. Trumpeter swans often use Canadian geese as an additional shield between them and the shoreline. Both species appear to have a coinciding flight schedule. Before I even approach the shoreline, I can hear the geese’s alarmed chatter. The swans’ calls turn more frantic as well. There might be an eagle overhead, hidden by layers of fog. The veils become thinner so close to the water. I can make out a ring of agitated Canadian geese on an impressive ice boulder near the woods. I cannot see the swans, well-hidden in the fog, but their voices make their presence known.
The creepy feeling of being watched returns. When I scan the woods closest to me, narrow eyes meet mine. The shadow becomes a name: a coyote paces the shoreline. The animal withstands its instinct to hide or run away from me when I approach. It looks at me with suspicion, yet hunger is stronger. The coyote remains close to the belt of geese when it limps slowly towards the fog. One of its hind legs is injured. Somehow the wild dog has gathered that I am not a threat to it, or the gnawing in its stomach is simply too essential to be ignored. Despite my watching, the coyote keeps pacing the shoreline. It observes the geese, eyes the weakest, waits for an opportunity to attack and considers from which angle –even if this will take all day. The fog intercepts my vision again. Instantly, the birds’ agitated calls increase in volume. Just like my feathered friends, I would like the veils to lift again, while the injured coyote might need this protection to ease the grumble of its belly. Nature at its purest.
For the second time in one day, I am humbled and grateful for the raw presence of the almighty Essence. An essence too sacred to be revealed to embodied souls. The mystery of life and death.
I start to shiver. Time to leave nature to itself.
About the author
Anja Kerstin Kuentzel,
Advanced Grief Recovery Method specialist, nature lover, photographer, and bilingual wordsmith combines her passions to offer a different perspective on life that might inspire, raise awareness or even heal.