Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snow Day!

Snow Day! The child in me delights! Although, I must admit, it’s not really because of happy childhood memories associated with the day off; in fact, I don’t really remember snow days at all, growing up on the east shore of Long Island. Was it because we had less snow than my present north country home? Or was it that we were a hardier, or, perhaps, less cautious, breed in those days? My husband, who was raised in this area, says that he does remember snow days in his childhood, so it must be the former.
But, certainly, I do have happy memories associated with snow days from my children’s early youth. Our neighbor has a massive hill, quite perfect for high caliber sledding, and all the neighborhood children would come to spend the morning, and sometimes, afternoon, as well. There would be pancakes, and hot chocolate, and yes, I think I nurtured my own inner child by nurturing my children with such celebratory customs, so even though I rarely participated in the sledding myself (probably because there was usually a little one, too small for sledding, that I needed to tend to) I remember those days with great fondness.
Of course, I do currently work in the school system, so it is a day off for me as well, which of course, as someone who never has enough time to do all the things I am interested in doing, I am quite grateful for a day’s emancipation from work, but I think it is those older, happy memories that warm my heart the most!

Monday, December 7, 2009

First Snow

Woodswalker and I took a hike on the Western Ridge trail in Moreau Lake State Park yesterday, in celebration of the first snow. We hurried to get there, for fear that the precious snow would be melted by noon; but, our fears were unfounded, in fact, there was no such threat; the higher elevation had had more snow, and the temperature there was colder, so there was no threat of melting! We hiked up the occasionally steep incline, and stopped on several plateaus to enjoy the view of the Luzerne Mountains in the distance. Close to the top, we could see the Spier Falls Dam down below on the Hudson River.
I never fail to marvel at the great boulders one sees in the Adirondacks, and although these are not the Adirondacks proper, geologically speaking, they are part of the same great thrust that created them, and so I enjoyed seeing them, scattered along the trailside as we walked; I always like to imagine how many creatures can make a home of the little nooks and crannies that are created by two, or more, boulders positioned together, creating little cave-like shelters. I imagine such shelters are in high demand, and that there must be stiff competition for these spaces. (This musing reminds me of Jan Brett’s classic children’s story, The Mitten, in which seven or eight animals try to escape winter’s cold by squeezing into a lost mitten, each subsequent interloper being larger than the last, stretching the mitten further and further, until finally, the last one to squeeze in is a bear!) The evergreens looked so lovely covered with the thick white snow, and in places, where they leaned in over the trail, with just enough breaks in the upper storey to allow sun to break through, magical hiding places were created. I was delighted as I passed through; it was like having my own little Narnia.
At the top we sat on some wide boulders and admired some interesting outcropping of rock; in one place, we saw some beautiful pink marble; and it seemed the higher we climbed, the more highbush blueberry bushes we saw; they seemed to be everywhere.
The climb back down was tougher, because the trail was slippery, and steep, so it was a good initiation for the first hike in winter weather, reminding me of the importance of the right equipment: I’d come without waterproof pants, and was wearing the wrong type of boot, so I learned a lesson or two! Though somewhat difficult, the experience was worth it, and just the sense of satisfaction for having challenged myself, was reward in itself.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Time For Quiet

I couldn’t believe it when I saw Woodswalker’s post about her walk in the local cemetery; I had, the same day, gone to a different cemetery seeking the same solace! This was not new to me; in the days when my husband, John, and I, traveled on the road as musicians, we would frequently find ourselves in some city where the only place we could find peace, and a bit of greenery, was often the town cemetery. As two people who lived in beautiful rural environs, we were spoiled by the numerous beautiful places for our daily hikes, but being on the road, sometimes in cold, inhospitable cities, we were grateful for the respite the local cemetery could provide.
Though outside its margins might have been roaring with traffic, congestion, and hoards of people, inside it was serene, peaceful, birds chirping, chipmunks chattering, squirrels scampering; and often, in older cemeteries , we would find magnificent old trees, rolling hills, and of course the often, exquisite headstones.
As we wandered amongst the gravestones, we were always touched by a sense of history: knowing each inscribed name represented a human life; each date, another time, another piece of history, remote and yet somehow, not, for we knew, these people had been driven by the same desires, fears and needs as we.
Growing up, the word, “graveyard” was a scary idea, visions of ghosts, and goblins, and all of our darkest fears were conjured, but that notion was transformed for me, in those peaceful walks that I often took in the local cemetery.