Tag Archive 'gratitude'

Jan 04 2021

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The Predawn Light of Winter

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Now we are in the thick of it. The holidays have passed and a winter storm has recently dropped half a foot of snow. It still clings to the bows of trees as I get out of bed and start my day. After an hour and a half of work in my study, I gaze out the window to catch the cool, blue light of predawn. My study is warm and well lit by comparison. I slip downstairs and poke my nose out the door for a whiff of the clean, cold air. For several weeks the ground has been naked, or barely covered by a thin film of powder. Now it looks the way it should look here in northern Vermont in January: blanketed by the white stuff.

The Winter Solstice is well behind us and already the days are noticeably longer to a light-sensitive fellow like me. The deep cold still lies ahead, though, as it takes the planet a while to warm up and cool down. No matter. It’s a brand new year, a new day, and life is good.

The days are getting longer, and I have plenty of work to keep me busy until the big thaw comes. That’s still months away. Occasionally I’ll get out and tramp around in the snow, but for the most part mine is an indoor life until mid-March. I’ll shovel the snow regularly, as I did yesterday, and sometimes that’s all the outdoor activity I need. As a writer I have learned to make the most of these colder months so that I don’t feel bad about being outdoors and unproductive during the warmer ones. It’s a good arrangement, actually. A good balance.

But now I revel in the blue light of predawn. I feel the exhilaration of simply being alive and well. The Earth circles the Sun and the seasons change. I relish the days ahead, as well as this day. It feels good to be stirring about on a day like this, on any day above ground.

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May 13 2018

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Springtime Overnighter

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A couple days into a run of relatively warm, dry, sunny weather, I decided to take full advantage of the situation. I set all work aside earlier this week, packed a few essentials into my old rucksack, and headed for the Breadloaf Wilderness.

There’s a nice spot on the headwaters of the New Haven River where I’ve camped several times before. After leaving my car at the trailhead, I hiked there. It didn’t take long to reach that campsite, even with my old dog Matika hobbling along slowly behind me.

No bloodsucking bugs this early in the season so I set up my tarp without attaching the mosquito bar. Gathering wood was easy since I was camped off trail. I fashioned a small campfire circle that I would make disappear when I left. With that bright yellow orb beating down through the leafless canopy, I didn’t start a fire right away. It was enough just to sit next to the stream, listening to the endless rush of water breaking over rocks while basking in sunlight.

When the sun finally slipped beneath the trees, I put a match to a tipi of birch bark and kindling in the campfire circle. I was startled by how quickly the fire took off, and made it a point to keep it very small and controllable with bottles of water close at hand. Matika entertained herself by chewing up some of the sticks in my woodpile.

Spending a night in the woods was just what I needed after a long winter of philosophical speculation. Temps dropped fast once the sun went down, though, and Matika crowded me off my foam pad. Not the best night’s sleep, but arising to the song of a waterthrush, a refreshing mountain breeze, and early light breaking through the forest made me thankful to be alive.

I lingered for hours over a morning campfire before slowly packing up and hiking back to the car. I was giddy all the way home, rolling through the Champlain Valley as the trees slowly leafed out. Springtime in Vermont, after a long snowy winter, is absolutely wonderful.

 

 

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