Archive for February, 2020

Feb 23 2020

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Late Winter Snowshoeing

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After thinking about it for days, I finally dig out my snowshoes and head for a nearby snow-covered forest – the Sheldon Town Forest to be exact. Here in northern Vermont, we’re into freeze-and-thaw temps now so there’s no time to waste. Odds are good that March will give us at least one good dump of fresh snow, but it could melt off quickly. Best to get outside with my snowshoes while I still can.

Yessir, my trusty Green Mountain Bear Paws. All leather and wood. I’ve had them over 25 years and have repaired them four times. Looks like another repair is just about due. No matter. I wouldn’t want to have anything else strapped to my boots when I get into deep snow. They’re three feet long and ten inches wide. They keep me on top of it for the most part.

It’s been two weeks since the last big snowfall so most of what’s on the ground now is compact. Still snowshoes are needed to negotiate it without post-holing. I follow a set of ski tracks passing through the conifers, slightly widening a path that others have made. No cutting tracks today. That’s fine by me.

Recent strong winds have shaken a lot of detritus loose from the trees. In a couple places I skirt fallen branches and downed trees. But travel across the snow isn’t difficult. I break a sweat and breathe heavily all the same. It’s a workout. With temps in the 30s I feel overdressed with only a thermal shirt, a wool shirt and an outer shell.

When the perimeter trail I’m following passes out of the conifers and into some hardwoods, I spot 4-wheeler along with a fellow tending to maple syrup lines. It’s that time of year. With day temps getting into the 40s this coming week, the sap will start running, no doubt. That gets me daydreaming about spring. Yeah, I’m ready for it. I’m more than ready. Snowshoeing is good, but I much prefer tramping across open ground. Soon, very soon.

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Feb 13 2020

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Staying Home

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There’s a huge pile of snow at the end of my driveway and the walkways around my house are knee-deep trenches. We’re not exactly snowbound, but it definitely feels like winter is going to hang on a while longer. These are ideal conditions for staying home. I’m happy enough being in my office all day, working on various literary projects, anyhow.

With this much fresh snow on the ground, I’d usually be grabbing my snowshoes and heading for the mountains, but I’m just not in the mood to drive anywhere. I was on the road last Friday when the big winter storm hit – the one that delivered most of this snow. It was a white-knuckle drive all the way.

I drove for hours over icy roads, with freeing rain, sleet and snow coming down entire time. I was hell-bent on attending a big library book sale a hundred and thirty miles away. When finally I got there, the library was closed and the book sale was postponed until the next day. I ended up killing the afternoon and evening in a hotel room. The power went out half an hour after I checked in. That’s when I realized that I had made a really bad decision venturing out. Should have stayed home.

I was lucky to return home in one piece. Accumulating ice busted a windshield wiper during the trip, and a headlight blew out when a passing truck threw a sheet of slush at my car. Winter travel can be treacherous.

Eventually I’ll get over it. The urge to be outdoors will trump the dread of driving, and soon I’ll be cutting fresh tracks through snowy woods. But for now, I’ll settle for staying indoors… longing for spring, when driving won’t be an issue.

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