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First Tracks

The first sticking snow of this winter came last Saturday, mid-morning. Sizable flakes precipitated at a leisurely pace, gradually coating the roads, but not quite managing to put the busy weekend day at a standstill. The snow accumulated to about 5 inches over the course of the afternoon and evening. Stunted snowmen were built.


This early in the season, people are diligent about removing snow. I think some of us actually look forward to it. Our downstairs neighbors are notably fanatical; they had two (of their six! total!) snow blowers going simultaneously around our driveway and sidewalk for about an hour. For less than a half of a foot!

Despite our neighbors’ MUCH-appreciated snow removal efforts, over the course of the night the street plows came through, and so I ventured outside Sunday morning at 6am to find a small mountain of gray slushy street snow blocking our driveway. I had my XC skis in hand and I was intent on making “first tracks” on the local conservation lands, so I grabbed a shovel and set myself upon the removal of a sizable pile of gray soupy slush. Oooof, my weak old lady arms and upper body, frail from lack of upper-body disuse…

I headed to the trail head — about two miles away — in Mr. P’s freshly snow-cleaned Subaru. The world bloomed with fresh heavy snow clinging thickly and winsomely to every tree, house and fence. I drove with some caution through the streets, which were plowed but still messy. The sky was brightening and I was excited to start skiing at dawn. There was evidence of one other skier having beaten me to the trail, which can be fortuitous if the snow is difficult to break trail on… but this skier had a much wider ski stance than normal. Following in his or her tracks was downright uncomfortable.

Wider than typical piste

Wider than typical piste

I soon found out it was a her, as I passed a woman around my age doing loops around the meadow, slightly bow-legged. Her too-wide tracks disappeared when I crossed the bridge to enter the woods, where I had first tracks — except for the coyotes.

98% sure these are coyotes

98% sure these are coyote tracks

I was marveling in unblemished fresh snow. This is winter’s joy! This is why winter is worth the freezing cold bitter icy gloomy misery.

Nice sunrise over the meadow

Nice sunrise over the meadow

I’m a happy lady when I’m out there in fresh snow on the skinny skis. There was just enough powder to make for a pretty good romp, and part of the sweetness of it all is I could tell it wouldn’t last. Towards the end of my forest loop I passed a dog walker whose boots turned the powder into compressed disks of slush. A few more pedestrians would render the trail unpleasant for skiing, but by then I would be home, eating breakfast, with an inner glow lighting a path for the day.

Happy lady

Happy lady





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