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Winter has been hanging on, with occasional set backs as fickle storms sweep vast temperature changes across the landscape. Just when we think snow and ice is over, another storm follows a warming spell and turns everything white again.  However, our  last warming spell here in Riggins, made it feel like approaching spring is in the air.

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For the past few days ice has been coming down the river in bits and pieces.  It is like a giant parade with each chunk of ice a celebratory participator. Like many members in a band, they come in all sizes, shapes, forms, and textures. From trapezoidal to roundish, smooth to rough, opaque to clear; white to grey, large to small, all a tattered and scattered flotsam of commemoration for winter’s thaw.

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At a deeper level, it is a part of the river’s sinewy speech; an articulation of the sensorial non-human intelligences we humans share the planet with, rather we recognize it or not.  Often  us humans anthropomorphize events in the natural world. This muddys the water a little when we try to distinguish what those “others” really are. Even though, they still  do  have a stand alone sentience, irrespective of our unfathomable  understanding of them or attempt to explain what they are  in human terms.

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Sentience is the ability to feel, perceive, or be conscious, or to have subjective experiences. So when I go out into the remote backcountry all by myself, I don’t feel lonely. Sensing all those “others” makes me appreciate that I am not the only thing that is  feeling the world. It makes me feel right at home, embraced by all those “others.”

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When I see the bald eagle shift from scavenging shoreline ice for fish remains discarded by otters work and setting  to the hillside hunting for chukars, or shallow river water for upstream steelhead passage, I know spring is in the air.  Soon, all those “others” will also be coming out more and more. Ya Hoo! Spring Fever. Love it.

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Otters won’t be the only ones playing in the water.

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Don’t miss the boat, or raft in this case.

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