Making the Invisible Visible

Blue_weather vane_2012-08-02

2014-03-06 – The dawn cracked this morning as I took my dog Lefty on a quick walk before leaving on my walking commute. A faint blue line painted the Eastern horizon, visible between the tree branches. But Lefty kept his head down. As I have been noting throughout the winter, as we walk through the snow, Lefty likes to poke his nose into holes in the snow and sniff.

This morning, it dawned on me that Lefty’s behavior is not a snow-time phenomenon at all. He does this, snow or no snow. The track he is following just becomes visible to me when there is snow on the ground. He “sees” it all the time through scent. We talk about a blanket of snow. We talk about it covering the earth and hiding what’s below. The truth is that it covers some things but reveals others.

I am one of the first people out walking in my neighborhood on a weekday morning. (The newspaper deliverers, a dying breed, don’t walk or even ride bikes like they did when I was a kid.) There’s a speed walker out for her morning exercise and further down the line there is a jogger. Sometimes I am out first, sometimes they are. But, if our paths don’t cross, I have no idea who passed through first—except when it snows. Lefty would know if another person was present, snow or no snow. I, on the other hand need to see the tracks in the snow to know that someone had preceded me.

This morning there was fresh snow in the park. Yesterday’s snow was light, so old tracks were present but blurred. For several weeks I have stayed on the paths in the park. Snow on the field was deep. But, in spite of yesterday’s snow, the level has subsided, so today I decided to cross the field, heading to the southwest, where the planet Venus still burned in the thin light of the eastern sky. I, apparently, was not the only one who had stayed to the paths in recent days. The snow in the field was still pristine.

We all leave our marks in one way or another. By tracks in the snow or sand. By scent. By writing blogs.

When I get to my office in the morning, I am usually the first one in. There is a mechanism in my office that turns on the light when I walk in. It doesn’t sense my tracks and I’m sure it doesn’t sense my scent or the scent of the coffee that I start brewing when I arrive. It senses my motion, though I am not exactly sure how that works.

Recently, I have been sitting in my office when the light abruptly goes out. I have no perception that I am being particularly still when this happens. If I wave my arms, the light (grudgingly) comes back on.

Lefty is sometimes like that, too. There are times when he is completely oblivious to my presence. And there are other times that he is acutely aware—like when I have food. Or when he wants to go out and sniff those trails of beings that had come before him.

The dawn will not be visible when I leave for work on Monday. Daylight savings time begins Sunday. The daylight that is saved for the evening is taken from the morning.

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