Betwixt the seasons

October 30, 2011 § 3 Comments

A few days ago T. and I were walking through inches of snow at the lake. My feet were cold in my boots despite two pairs of wool socks. My fingers were cold in their insufficient cotton-knit gloves. (I have better ones, but I couldn’t find them, so don’t worry – I know well the importance of equipping oneself for the weather!) I could see my breath. The lake lie so still, all silver-gray. It didn’t invite swimmers, except for the water birds way out in the middle, black and gliding slowly, slowly.

Everything seemed white, or close to it, even the sky, and this somehow made the space all come together into one winter scene that my dog and I could step into. Snow harmonizes things, I think; in tossing itself over all the other textures and colors out there it makes the world coordinate, with a kind of Scandinavian simplicity. It gathers everything under one blanket. Yet – not quite buried in that heavy snowfall – there were the trees, their leaves like a joyful shout. The leaves, though they had been suddenly frozen, held onto their bright color, and how stunning were the reds and yellows against that canvas of whites and grays.

Even with my cold toes and fingers I kept wanting to stay here, to walk farther, at a pace that let me just be even as I moved. To notice the shape of the snow on the maple leaf, the thick lining on tree branches. You could look across the calm of the lake and there, one, two aspens gold as daffodils, asking for your notice, and you couldn’t help admiring them. We ducked beneath bending limbs, maneuvered around a fallen pine, peered through the trunks of cottonwoods. T. chased her orange tennis ball through the powder and came running back with bright brown eyes. She loves the snow, too. Home we went to the fireplace and cider.

And today? Today we wandered a trail not quiet but well-traversed by families, couples, people with dogs. The same lake, a different day. A hot sun. Trees that have dropped most of their leaves, and some of their branches, thanks to that shock of heavy, cold snow. I had put on my wellies and a vest and grabbed a couple of tennis balls, and once we got out there I threw them again and again into the water that seemed not at all still, not at all wintery, but just right for a retriever’s entertainment. I wandered in along the shoreline, balanced on rocks to walk as far as I could out towards the center, without letting the water spill into my boots. (I overestimated and got my right foot soaked, but you know, it wasn’t even chilly enough to matter.) We kept going farther, past the lake to get to the reservoir, and once we got far enough down the shoreline we managed to escape everyone else.

I pulled off my boots and socks and wiggled my bare toes under the sun. Miss T. went back and forth, in the water and out, sniffing the ground, rolling around on her back to get a thorough scratching from the grasses and twigs between the trees. The sun shone in my eyes. I stretched out onto my back and wondered how in the world this was the same place as it had been earlier in the week.

We are walking between fall and winter, and I expect we might for the next few weeks. Red leaves cover the grass outside my apartment, but Wednesday is planning to bring more snow to cover them. The back seat of my car contains almost every jacket, coat, and pair of gloves that I own; you can’t always quite know what you might need and I’d best be ready. I start days with five layers and get to the middle wearing only one. Other days – like yesterday’s windy, gray market – I wear two and wish for more, and stamp my feet, and wonder why I left the scarf behind, and if I ought to spend the money to have wool-lined boots that look like shoes, to keep my overly-sensitive-to-cold toes warm on days when i don’t want to be clomping around in my big (though splendidly warm) Sorels. It is a guessing game, to be aided by weather.com.

Honestly, I feel a bit spoiled. I love both of these seasons. How lucky to have them both for awhile.

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