Mar 02 2009

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Hemlock Cones

Posted at 3:21 pm under Blog Post

Last week I hiked the trail around Indian Brook Reservoir just to stretch my legs.  The Reservoir was completely iced over and the trail was half a foot of packed snow, but it was good getting out.  I’ve been feeling cooped up lately so it was a pleasure hiking long and hard enough to break a sweat.  Besides, the air temperature was hovering right below freezing – a balmy, late-winter day by Vermont standards.  That and the bright sun shining through the clear sky overhead made me reconsider my bias against the season.  Maybe winter isn’t so bad after all.

On the far side of the Reservoir, I found a tiny hemlock cone in the middle of the trail.  I looked around then plucked a few more from the snow.  I did the same beneath another hemlock a short while later.  I put the cones in my shirt pocket and finished my hike.  Back home I found a place for them atop a stack of books.  I knew what would happen.

The next day, the cones opened up, exposed as they were to indoor heat.  I smile every time I notice them.  The first hemlock cones of the season – proof positive that winter is on its last leg.  The way I see things, these small cones mark the beginning of a new growing season.  Spring can’t be that far away.

Last Friday an exceptionally warm wind blew out of the southwest, driving temperatures into the fifties.  I swapped out my winter coat for a rain jacket and went for a long walk on the Rail Trail.  Plowing through the punky snow was as difficult as walking a sandy beach, but I didn’t care.  I reveled in the melt-off going on all around me, dreaming of things to come.

Right now it’s snowing outside.  I just returned home from a short walk on the edge of town where a wicked wind blew the white stuff horizontally across the trail.  I froze one half of my face on the way out, and the other half on the way back.  So it goes.  I probably won’t be outside again today any longer than it takes to shovel a path to the car.  But the hemlock cones resting atop my books still make me smile.  I know what’s coming.  It’s just a matter of time now.

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