Around six this evening, it was snowing hard enough that one end of the field was invisible from the other. Bordering street lights were dim cones of light, with nothing visible past them. I had the field to myself, and the fierce, obscuring snow made it feel remote and old and uncivilized.
As I started up the hill for home, passing the glorious wreck of the fallen cottonwood, I thought about how some kids have further broken it, to get pieces for fort building or the fun of breaking things or what have you, and I thought: a fallen cottonwood is an altar; only foolish boys would desecrate such a thing. When I got to the top I thought again: a fallen cottonwood is an altar. I didn't go to church this morning, but is this not a reverent act of worship, to go and lay one's hands on the horns of the altar? Sure, half laughing at myself, but also praying forgiveness for my unworthiness, I returned to the tree. I stopped, pulled off my hood and hat, gasped at the blast of cold, removed also my gloves, and approached, accepting the snow blowing in my face, and grabbed the snow covered tips of two conspicuous, upturned branches. I left a long moment later, trying to brush the snow off my hair and hastily putting my hat and such back on. If I had such religious experiences at church, I'd go more often, and more enthusiastically. I yelped a few times, I headed home.