A Snowball Walk in the Woods
There are winters when it seem to snow, relentlessly, mercilessly, every day. The types of winters that wiped out half of the pilgrims on the Mayflower. “Hungry? Eat more snow!” kind of winters. This was not that kind of winter in New England. And now that we’re well into March, when the sun is higher and the snow melts quickly, it seems clear that opportunities to celebrate winter are drawing to a close.
Blame it on seasonal variability or jet streams run askew or climate change, whatever the reason, the opportunities to fly across snow on skis or snowshoes wasn’t quite available locally. None of that quick lunch hour snowshoe hiking presented itself this year in southern New Hampshire. And truthfully, I missed it. When friends invited me to hike up north after a heavy snowfall on Saturday, I leaned in towards it but pivoted back to home. I wanted to savor the local trails instead. It turned out to be a sound decision.
Driving over to a local town forest, I expected the parking lot to be jammed full of fellow snow lovers. Instead, I found it relatively quiet. Tracks indicated others had set off on snowshoes, while a few chose to post-hole their way through the snow, wrecking the pristine trail. This would prove a problem on the wooded trails, but in the fields I simply flew off on my snowshoes to break my own trail. After all, this was what I missed most this winter—flying atop unbroken snow.
It proved to be as delightful as I’d hoped it would be, but already the sun was up and working on the snow pack. The trees began dropping snowballs, often with small branches, which dampened my enthusiasm for the wooded trails. The fields were better, and I thumped my way around in earnest, seeking that flying feeling until I was breathless. Stopping for a rest, I looked around and listened. Nothing but snowballs falling in the woods. Not a single human voice, or dog barking, or even a car far off in the distance. Just a clydesdale in snow, appreciating the briefness of the moment. We never know if we might have another opportunity to do something. A winter like this one teaches you to make the most of the moment before it melts away.