This Side Up

Winter's icing, a welcome snow

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Finally some snow.

Okay, I know winter is wearing thin, but did you really expect to get through it without at least one “respectable” snowstorm, not these measly slushy messes? Besides, a winter without enough snow to fire up the snow blower or make a trip to the market on the remote possibility of being homebound for more than 12 hours just doesn’t seem fair.

Well, winter delivered early Saturday morning and as of this writing will come up with a 5 to 8-inch dividend early Monday. Am I cheering about the bonus? Not exactly, as it comes at the beginning rather than the end of the week. Fortunately, Saturday’s event was cold enough for some fluffy stuff and not the rainy mix initially forecast.

Roads were quickly cleared and by Saturday afternoon everything was back to normal, with the exception of the white frosting on yards and fields, or what I figured would be ideal cross country conditions. Sunday’s sun and temperatures in the 40s made it all the more inviting.

Ollie was ready for the day. He was revved up at 6, shaking one of his pullies, tossing it in the air and pushing it at me to entice me into a tug of war. I told him it was too early, but he persisted until we turned him loose to patrol the yard and sniff out what critters may have visited overnight. After that it was breakfast and at least for Ollie a nap in the sun from a chair facing a southerly exposure.

By mid-morning Carol was putting on her boots and calling for him to walk around Confreda playing fields. This would be my chance. I’d bring the skis and join them.

I poked around in the closet. My boots showed up, as did the skis. This was going to work.

My wax-less skis, the rage at the time I bought them at least 30 years ago, looked to be as worthy as ever. The bamboo poles were worse for wear, however, functional. I was ready.

Confreda fields are hardly challenging. There are no hills, no trails cutting through woods, no rocks, no fallen trees and just nice, smooth easy going. Carol with Ollie on his extra-long leash set off to walk the perimeter of the fields. I snapped on my skis and crossed the diagonal of a soccer field to join them.

A pale blue, the sky was flecked with mare’s tails and lower small puffy clouds. A brewing storm? There was no wind and the sun was warm. We had the place to ourselves. There were footprints. Others had preceded us. There were a few deer tracks and perhaps a coyote or someone who had let their dog off leash. Boot prints spaced almost a yard apart left us to wonder the size of the man or woman who had come this way. And then there were the unmistakable tracks of snowshoes, signs that someone else was not prepared to give up on winter.

This wasn’t winter skiing.

The birds were in full chorus to the tempo of a woodpecker somewhere in the woods lining Buckeye Brook. It was cheerful, a song of spring. Carol pointed to a tree.

“Red buds?”

It was difficult to tell. Was I seeing a reddish hue or was I, like the birds, ready to welcome spring?

I pushed off on my poles, giving the skis a kick and guide. It wasn’t fast, but I felt the rush of cool air.

You can love winter at this time of year when spring is knocking.

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