Posts Tagged ‘winter’

snow? what snow?

February 11, 2012

Not really feelng the love from winter this winter.

How is it possible to live in New England and count the snow pileup (from the one “storm” we’ve had so far) on less than half of one hand’s fingers?

So I went in search of the white stuff in mid-January, there was a rumor that central Mass. had seen some one week recently. That Sunday I ventured westward to go visit the Wachusett Meadow Audubon Center in Princeton. Sure enough, the further west I got the more like winter it looked. By the time I arrived, there was a good 4-5 inches on the ground. Crusty, but white nonetheless. It was a brightly sunny afternoon and in the single digits but perfect for a long walk through the woods to visit the beaver/otter pond on their land. Didn’t even need snowshoes or skis.

These are some shots from that day, along with a couple taken the morning after our one “storm” this season.

Let’s hope these won’t be the last ones this season before things start to really warm up.

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the not-so-great outdoors

February 5, 2011

(That’s my road – what a change with just a few hour’s time!)

Pay no attention to the name of this article. The fault, dear Brutus, is not our grand environment but in our poorly fitting gear and under-preparation that we are underlings.

Today’s x-country adventure was a reminder that it’s best to be careful this time of the year in Vermont even when the skies are blue, the temps are above freezing and and everything seems perfect for outdoor fun.

The adventure began about a half mile from home, as I skiid to the top of my road and took off on the trail up there. I often walk it in the summer and snowshoe or ski it in the winter, occasionally encountering friends and neigbors from the area along the way. It’s a fairly straightforward path (no surprises) leading to the Beane Trail, which leads in turn to the Long Trail along the spine of the Green Mountains.

Today I was trying out a pair of boots I’d been given – my size, but more snug with heavy socks than they should have been. I thought it would be OK. I misjudged that situation.

At around the half mile mark I stopped along the trail to take off my right sock hoping it would  help the boot fit better. It did for a little while. Then the too-loose boot started rubbing. Great.

When a big blister seemed imminent on that heel I decided to call it and just head back home. Except I could no longer keep my foot in the boot with that nasty blister. So I skiid along, right foot on tip-toe with the heel out of the boot. In other words – unable to control that ski at all to any useful degree. That put most of the onus on my left leg to keep me upright and moving along. Clumsy and stressful, to say the least.

The trail never seemed so long and unfamiliar as it did today.

I fell a few times off the side of it and had to dig myself out of waist-deep snow to get back on the trail. At one point I lost a glove in the snow and the binding on my left ski popped out repeatedly with the stress of carrying most of my weight. The right heel continued to burn, mean and raw now as the skin rubbed off the nickel-sized blister and the exposed red skin beneath kept getting covered in snow. I was thirsty – the water bottle I had brought was crushed in one of the falls.

After a while, moving slow, I finally returned to the top of the trail where it meets my road. What a relief. But if skiing slowly on one ski was difficult in deep snow – it sure wouldn’t be any better fast on the slippery, snow-packed road down to my house. So I took off the skis and walked home, the whole way with my right foot still only partially in the too-tight ski boot.

Not the best day outside.

Still glad I did it though. And I made it back before the afternoon’s winter storm warning was realized. Within a couple of hours of my return to the house, the crystal blue skies turned thick gray and the snow started falling. There are already two new inches on the windowsills.

I’ll give it a week. Then I’ll trade in my boots somewhere, get better ones, and head out again.

(“Cross-country skiing is easier, if you live in a small country.” – Garrison Keillor)


January 24, 2011

No one ever laid it down more musically than Vivaldi. From whipping winds and inconsolable shivers to raw, chapped hands and sharp, clear breaks of wintertime sun – it’s all in here.

‘s paradise.

January 22, 2011

I have relatives who live in Hawaii. They love to send Christmas cards of themselves in swimsuits, drinking umbrella cocktails on perfect white sand beaches. Every year.

That’s nice. I’m glad they’re happy. But I have a secret: as much as they feel smug about dodging winter with their year-round Hawaiian condo, I am more than happy to let them have it so I can remain in the minority and happily soak up wintertime like they absorb UV rays.

I wouldn’t trade living in a Northern climate for anything – except, maybe, a MORE Northern climate. I can walk out the front door of my house in the middle of a winter day and hear NOTHING. The low winter sun creates stunning sunsets of pink, orange, and violet reflected in a swirl of shifting shadows on the deep drifts of blue snow. Ever snowshoe by full moonlight in a crystalline world of indigo and black silhouettes?

You haven’t seen anything in your life until you’ve experienced the Northern lights, dancing in its wardrobe of shimmering, luminous green veils – or radiating, pulsating, infusing the whole sky with crackling color. It’s magnetic, it’s magic, it’s a gift from nature.

In the wintertime, the landscape comes alive with the evidence of visitors whose daily doings are invisible at other times of the year: raccoons, snowshoe rabbits, red and grey squirrels, owls, deer, moose, mice, and lots of birds. They leave their tracks and often improbably looping trails in the snow as a gentle reminder that there is a whole world of quiet life happening around us. Woolly porcupines scoop out telltale long, deep trenches that purposefully link their burrows to water sources. Occasionally one encounters large, deep hollows in the shelter beneath trees – someone’s bed, the previous night.

There are times when the air is so cold it seems to reach right down into your throat and sieze your lungs by their roots – makes you feel alive! And happy to be.

I could go on. I won’t, at least not now. I’ll let a few pictures take over from here. These are shots you won’t find on Christmas cards coming from relatives in Hawaii. And remember, this is just between us. If those Hawaiian implants begin to understand the intense, unique beauty of winter they just may change their minds and come back. They would be very cold in their swimsuits.

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