Snow Owl
By: Brad Cole

The frozen Meade River bends along steep, snowy bluffs and disappears into a distant, hazy horizon. I stop walking to watch a lone caribou crossing the winter river and vanish into the rocky hillside. The calm of the evening tundra settles my mind, and I breathe my soul outdoors. Being far from the corruption of the wearing world, I long to live on white wings floating quietly over the vast and glimmering snow. Worldliness is where the spirit of the land goes to die, I thought.

The snowy landscape cushions the twilight colors of the sky as a full moon rises in the east, and the sun sets in the west. The village of Atqasuk is settled between the two celestial bodies that looked posed for a duel with one another.

After a long, dark winter in which I felt so conquered by the night, it is refreshing to behold the sun. It brings life back to the land. My spirit feels renewed by having bathed in the golden light. Its healthy wholeness feels like the love of a good mother. Standing there quietly, I think it is empathy that rules nature and shapes intelligence. We are judged by the wholeness of our character and humanity. It is in the blending of different cultures that makes a nation great, I felt. Our nation must be able to see and reach out beyond itself to work well in the world.

Watching the distant caribou grazing on the frozen tundra, I realize that I have woken up in nature. I love the feeling of cold, windy distances in the land where the white-feathered wings of owls with piercing eyes flash silently across the sky in search of prey.

Turning around, I started walking back to the village. It is easy to step across the wind-hardened snowdrifts with spiked cleats strapped to my boots. The large wolf ruff on the hood keeps my nose from freezing again.

I now see the full moon rising alone into the evening dark. A vision appears from the depths of my soul. I can feel its’ sharp eyes bearing down on me. Its spirit is greater than mine. White wings suddenly flash through my being, grasping and cutting into my heart. I disappear into a hungry wilderness of windswept feathers. Then, off in the distance, I hear mice crawling beneath the snow. Seeing my large, snowy wings, I lift up into the windy sky and start hunting for prey. In the end, we become what we love.