Archive for March, 2014

Mar 26 2014

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Last Winter Outing

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snowshoes, Preston BrookI had hoped that by now I’d be hiking in cold mud, but winter lingers. I drove to the mountains anyway. Had to get out. Couldn’t stay cooped up inside, snow or no snow.

The snow was deeper than expected – about a foot and a half. Good thing I had brought along snowshoes. I strapped them on and ventured up a narrow trail packed by a lot of other restless souls. Eventually I stepped off trail and cut tracks down to Preston Brook.  My dog Matika followed, post-holing yet just as happy as me to be outdoors.

I followed a set of bobcat tracks that pointed upstream, threading through the woods. The brook remained hidden for the most part. Temps remained below freezing but cutting tracks is hard work so I stripped down to shirtsleeves to keep from sweating too much.

Upon reaching a favorite spot along the brook, I took off my snowshoes, donned a heavy sweater, and made a seat out of the foam pad I’d brought with me. With my back against a tree, I was quite comfortable sitting there for a while.  The sun shined brightly, illuminating the snow. The brook murmured beneath the snowpack. Trees creaked in the gentle breeze.

Back on the move again before catching a chill, I took pity on my post-holing dog. I looped over to the beaten path instead of retracing my tracks. She was happy to have solid footing again. I followed her. I tramped along in something of a daydream, remembering previous outings along Preston Brook on much warmer occasions. Soon spring will begin in earnest, I kept telling myself. Soon, very soon.


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Mar 16 2014

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Chasing the Light

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MarchLakeChampWinter persists. A Nor’easter dumped over a foot of snow on northern New England this week, followed by an all-too-familiar cold snap. But the March sun melts the ice with ease at midday, and lingers into early evening. There is hope for us yet. The equinox, after all, is only four days away.

My dog Matika was so restless this morning that I had no choice but to take her out for a run. She was my excuse, anyhow. Where to go? Usually I gravitate to the woods, but today I went to the lake. If I can’t have warmth and greenery, then give me blue sky and sunlight.

A wicked north wind greeted me as I stepped out of my car and walked to the edge of Lake Champlain. It was iced over as far as the eye could see. I tossed a ball for Matika while trudging across the icy ground between snowdrifts. Judy had warned me about this bitter, lakeshore cold. But I ventured into it anyway, chasing the light.

The many tracks in the snow assured me that Matika and I weren’t alone in our restlessness. A few hardy ice fishermen stood motionless on the bay ice despite the cold. For a moment I imagined lake water lapping gently to shore before me as it had the last time I was here.

My eyes watered as the wind blew, urging me to cut my walk short. Oblivious to the cold, Matika kept running after the ball. Clouds appeared on the western horizon and that was it for me. Back inside for another day. Spring will arrive soon, the optimist in me kept thinking. And I smiled when I saw a shamrock decoration plastered to the window of a house during my drive home.  Yes, spring will arrive soon, very soon.


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Mar 04 2014

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Cabin Fever

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Sheldon woodsIt has been a long winter, colder than any in memory, and I have a case of cabin fever that won’t quit. That’s why I went out this morning after a round of writing, despite the fact that it got down to 3 below zero last night. By the time I’d pulled on several layers of wool clothing and had slipped out the door, it was 10 above zero. Still very cold for early March, but it would have to do.

Matika was as happy as I was to get out of the house. She ran circles around me as I tramped a hard-packed trail cutting through the woods. She disappeared momentarily. When I found her she was chewing on the bones of a deer that hadn’t survived the winter.

The tracks of several other wild animals crisscrossed the trail. This time of year, they could only be doing one thing: looking for food.  That made me realize just how easy I have it. Grumble all I want about this long, cold season, at least I’m well fed.

The fresh air, bright sunlight, and forest silence work wonders on me regardless of the time of year, no matter what the thermometer says. It was good getting out this morning, and I was just a little disappointed when I’d finished the loop and had returned to the car. So soon?  Not the daylong excursion that I so desperately need, but good enough for now.

Patience, patience. Spring isn’t far away. In a few more weeks, Matika and I will be slogging through cold mud. Then we’ll be in our glory.



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