Ice and Snow

November 23, 2021

I’ve been waiting for it, and today it appeared: ice. This morning was 25 degrees, and it stayed that way a good long time. I went looking for the ice. I appreciated the frost; thick, hoary frost on the grasses that sparkled as you moved. The river was gently lapping at the shore behind me. I headed past the spice bushes, which are now just a cobweb of slender twigs, the light shining on their arching branches. I couldn’t walk along a log, because it was so icy. I climbed up the hill towards a vernal pool I like to skate on.

Sure enough, there it was—fully iced over in glorious fractals. The chestnut, white and red oaks surrounding the pool had dropped all their leaves into the inky black water stained brown by the tannins, and the leaves in turn were trapped by the ice, frozen in place. I studied it closely to take photographs, mesmerized by the stillness. Then I began to see how the pool this year is so much lower than last year, which is surprising because we’ve had so much rain. There is a log that fell into the water that I use as a measure—the tree was only just touching the water, when last year it was almost submerged. I love the long-term observations, year in, year out—knowing something so well that I can see it change. I love the relationship it creates between me, the place and time.

November 28, 2021

First snow! I woke up this morning to a patchy white world, but now it’s just dotted with white. I made sure to go up on the ridge as soon as I could, where the snow is a bit thicker. Maybe an inch? It was exhilarating to see it again—the chestnut oaks deep and grooved bark flocked with white, the Christmas ferns completely white except a deep green outlining their jagged edges, stones covered with a white frosting. The sky is low and gray, but the snow has stopped. The pond up on the ridge was a steely gray matching the sky. The birds don’t seem to mind and flutter here and there. I looked for paw prints in the already disappearing snow. I think the best part of snow is seeing how busy our wild neighbors are. Every log had a flurry of squirrel prints, yet the woods remained still, seemingly empty.

Notes: Winter seems to really be here, even though we have a bit of time before the solstice. I am happy to be cold and to watch the snow fall lightly as I walk (as long as there’s a cup of tea waiting for me at home). There’s been a fox visiting our house lately, which seems odd, but I do enjoy seeing this beautiful creature. As always, feel free to write me at julia.c.sforza at gmail dot com. Otherwise, I’ll see you here next week!