At some point along the way I discovered a yoga app that I have come to love (Down Dog, if you're interested). Aside from all of the obvious benefits of yoga, my favorite part of the whole practice every time is when the instructor reminds me to "start to begin to arrive" as I am sinking my often aching, over-wound body into Child's Pose. That reminder helps me to let go more deeply, allows me to relax into a stretch that always feels like a divine act of surrender.
I didn't consciously connect my New Year's Day visit to Antelope Island with that phrase, but looking back, it is clear to me that I approached the new year in this way. Salt Lake City was smack in the middle of an inversion and a light snowfall, so the mountains around the city were hidden behind drapes of blank whiteness. As I drove toward the island it became clear that I wouldn't be seeing much of the Great Salt Lake. It was like driving through a white, silent cloud.
I crossed the causeway to the island, passing hundreds of water fowl floating in the open water near shore. Bison roamed freely near the road as I turned left toward the Fielding Garr Ranch, a former cattle and sheep ranch on the island. The property now serves as a museum featuring a well-preserved adobe ranch house, blacksmith shop, spring house, and bunk house. There are barns in various states of disrepair and farm equipment on display.
As I drove through the vast, white expanse, my mind was wiped clean. It was crisp and cold - the kind of cold that makes wooden stairs snap under your feet. I breathed the emptiness into myself. I stopped to watch bison lying in a field, huge, stark figures against the snowy ground and fog shrouded lake.
The ranch buildings are unheated, which allowed me to get closer to the way it may have felt to live there in the late 1800s. There was so little in each building that the simplest objects took on a beauty that might otherwise have been missed: a figurine (of course it was a deer), an abandoned hat, a row of bottles, a swaybacked old tractor.
I drove to the other side of the island, climbing high onto a bluff to peer out at more grazing bison and the edge of the lake. There was a cold wind and people in the distance, but I was very much on my own.
As I left the island, I stopped to watch the water birds clustered together against the ice. I breathed in, out, in, out. I had arrived in my new year, clear, clean, empty, ready.