Treading lightly the path to enlightenment.

Posts tagged ‘winter’

The Test

Remind me why we do this

Remind me why we do this

Humans love a challenge. Throw down a gauntlet, and someone will step right up.

A few hundred years ago there were great challenges to be embarked upon. The Northwest Passage, circumnavigation of the globe, settling the wild frontier of the New World, establishing the Oregon Trail, climbing to the summit of Everest, building the transcontinental railroad.

Nowadays, the great challenges lie entirely with experts. Scientists and Medical researchers. Landing on a comet, bringing samples back to earth. Finding cures for life-threatening diseases. Planning a manned mission to Mars. Back in the old days, anybody with a boat and a patron could set sail for adventure.

In my modern, comfortable, automated, mechanized life in the richest country in the world, it seems the greatest challenge sometimes is balancing the checkbook or sealing the drafty windows for winter. Unlike times past, there’s little worry about  heat, food, shelter, money, transportation.

And so, I must invent my own challenges. Winter is one. Not just surviving the winter shuttered in our rooms, sipping hot tea by the fire. Embracing winter.

Winter is a test. A test of fortitude, endurance, maybe sanity. I love the test.

Getting out in the Magic of winter is a challenge, but the rewards are many.

The Long trail

The Long trail

For one, there’s a standing promise to my dog, Chuy, that we will go out for a great hike whenever we can. This is often as much a challenge for him as it is me. This year, the snow piled up. Fluffy, soft snow. For the first half of the winter it was average, and good hiking. By the second half, the snow was still fluffy, and deeper than the length of an Akita’s legs. Stepping off the trail at the wrong point would plunge Chuy into snow up to his shoulders. Granular & powdery snow, like quicksand. More than once it was necessary to strike the path and cut a snowshoe trail to the floundering dog. I’m sure he would eventually swim his way out, but he’s older than I am (in dog years) and I can’t watch him struggle too much.

There’s also the cold, and in his golden years, Chuy’s feet don’t tolerate the sub-zero temperatures for long, and he’ll start lifting a paw. It’s actually two paws. His left front and right rear. We don’t hike when the temps are below 8 degrees.

Getting out into the winter is work. Boots, snowsuits, snowshoes, and gloves, gloves, gloves. Hats & scarves. That’s just another part of the test.  Willing yourself to step out the door is another. Once outside, the beauty of the season is all around. The sky seems bluer, the snow brighter. The winds whip up snow devils, dust the snow from pine boughs, blow drifts three or four feet deep across our snowshoe trail to the top of Nishan Hill, and beyond to the edge of the hardwoods.


I’m disappointed that I didn’t get more ice fishing in this winter, and now the season is over. It’s another challenge. To be out there, in the elements. To drill through fourteen inches of ice and set a tip-up line, five in a row. To feel a fish on the end of your line, while standing above the water, as far away from summer and boats as you can be. To pour hot coffee from a Thermos, the steam rising, committed to activities in the 15-degree air.

Engleville Pond, January

Engleville Pond, January

To reach down through the frozen pond and pull up a meal. A challenge and reward in one. I was alone on the pond in January, when I pulled a couple pickerel through the ice. Between flags, I’d listen to the quiet, study the snow-dusted mountains, observe the bright blue sky, vast expanses of ice, forests all around. There’s a difference between isolation and solitude.

We finally got a couple of snowmobiles going this year, another good activity to get us out of the inside and into the outside.

When I was growing up, my Dad was mad about snowmobiles. They weren’t as sophisticated (or expensive) back then, but they were every bit as much fun. A couple years ago, my Dad gave me his last sled, an ’83 Arctic Cat Jag 3000 F/C.

This winter, though the snow wasn’t perfect, my son-in-law brought his sled and his kids (grandson Max and granddaughter Elizabeth), and we spent a day riding the sleds around the same trails Chuy and I walked so frequently. Getting a 400 pound snowmobile unstuck out of three feet of powdery snow is quite a challenge, and lets you know which muscle groups you need to tone. We had hours of good old-fashioned fun, and I don’t think we ever noticed the cold. Funny how that happens.

Max & Matt

Max & Matt

Lizzy & Chuy

Lizzy & Chuy

Here we are nearing the end of March already, and, like last year, I feel a certain sadness that the snow is leaving for another year. Last year I did a post called So Long Snow, in which I expressed the same lament. Having survived and thrived, we immersed ourselves in the challenging season, and came out feeling accomplished.

We didn’t just live through winter, but lived it!

Blustering trail

Blustering trail

We’ve passed The Test for another year.


Seek peace,




Tuesday, 5:52

February Sun

February Sun

Tuesday, 5:52 pm

The road is covered with an inch of icy, snowy stuff. The sky is pink on this day of the Full Snow Moon. I’m writing blog posts in my head as I drive. The voice in my head changes from my own to the great narrator voices, reading my post aloud. First it’s Anthony Bourdain and his comma-specked lilting tone. The voice morphs into Peter Coyote, then Sam Elliot’s slow Texas drawl. He could read the phone book and keep us transfixed. A car 200 feet ahead spins a full 360 degrees in Interstate traffic. Fortunately we’re all moving at 28 miles an hour, so we stop and watch. The car comes to rest broadside in the middle of three lanes. A near-miracle, it hit no guardrails or other cars.

Tuesday, 6:02

The air is about twelve degrees. The defroster is on high and can barely keep up with the ice on the wiper blades. Now Bill Curtis is reading my blog aloud, I’m writing about how exciting it is to be driving home in the light after three months of darkness. “6:02 pm”, I start, “That’s 18:02 if you’re in Europe. Is it easier for us to add 12 hours or for Europeans to subtract? Maybe we have the jump on them because we use the am/pm nomenclature so often.”

Tuesday, 6:08

Starting again to write a blog post. Someone in a hurry passes another car on State Highway 7. He’s crowding the oncoming traffic and someone in a white Jeep starts to swerve left to avoid a head-on crash. “Why would you pull left?” I ask the dashboard aloud. “Always pull right.”  I’m trying to think of the names and voices of other great narrators, great tones. Jack Palance. The ubiquitous Mike Rowe. Carl Sagan.

Tuesday, 6:12

It’s my own voice again. The post is about driving home. I’d quote the time and begin to formulate thoughts then something would disperse the thoughts and I’d start again with a new time. The whole while I hear voice-over artists speaking my words. Now it’s Dennis Leary, and his tone doesn’t fit. Now I can’t stop thinking of Dan Rather, who has a good voice but you just don’t think of him as a voice-over artist. It’s getting dark now, and the Snow Moon rises on my left, accompanied by brilliant Venus in the evening sky.

Tuesday, 6:21

The Moon and the Evening star (which is not a star at all, but a planet) shine brightly. I’m thinking of a walk tonight in the full moon. A Snow Moon Walk like my son Ryan and I took two or three years ago. The moon is so bright it casts deep shadows on the snow. It’s bitter cold, twelve degrees. I think about a post called “Moon and Star”, about a personal philosophy. It’s about constance and change. It’s about the fleeting impermanence in our lives and about the cosmic constant of the universe and its occupants. It’s difficult to think of the entire universe as transient, but it, too, shall pass as all things must.

Tuesday, 6:34

It’s dark. It’s cold. It’s February. Andrew Zimmern’s voice begins reading my post. It’s a good voice, but predictable in its gait and inflection. Still, a good voice. The road is empty. Everyone’s home already, apparently. I begin to compose again. “Tuesday, 6:34.” I’d start, “and I hear the voices of narrators reading my latest post.”


Be at peace,



Happy New Year!

Solstice Day

Solstice Day

Contrary to popular belief, today is New Year’s Eve.

“What?” you’re thinking, “has Paz lost it? Is he in another time zone?”

My time zone is the cosmos, and at 6:03 pm on the 21st of December is the winter solstice. Happy New Year!

I live in the world, not in a paper calendar.

I live by sun and moon and stars.

My only clock is the universe, ever-expanding and ancient, yet consistent, predictable and comfortable here on my tiny rock, out here near the edge of an arm of the Milky Way.

Days get shorter from the celebrated Longest Day in June. Thinking of today, the Shortest Day, in early summer, brings perspective to this time thing.

“Here we go.” I’ll say to Chuy, on June the 22nd, “it’s downhill from here.”

Yet it is now, at the winter solstice, that this viewpoint is truly appreciated.

Some may say we’re entering winter.

Some may say we’ll have months of bleak, cold, frozen darkness before our world becomes alive again.

Some mourn the passing of summer and fall.

Snow on Pines

Snow on Pines

Some look to their paper universe for a graphic representation of the remainder of their sentences.

January, February, March and April, the days stacked like snowflakes, snow drifts that must be tunneled through, frozen expanses of ice that must be traversed. Hunkered down, shuttered in, braced for cold, rigged for storms. The now and the next filled with taxing burdens, dangers even.

Here at Holiday House, there is a celebration going on.

Tomorrow our tiny, insignificant rock crosses an imaginary line, riding its little disc in the plane of our solar system.

Today the famous North Pole, still days from the launch of the Big Red Sled, leans away from our little orange star. We spin on our top, to days that are a few, dimly lit hours up there in caribou country, in the land of igloos and polar bears.

Crossing the Equator

Crossing the Equator

Here in the northeast US, sunlight works a day shorter than mine, but that’s about to change!

Happy New Year, as from this day ’til June, each day will be a little brighter. Each day brings us closer to treasures stowed for winter. Leaves and flowers and summer tanagers. Shirtsleeve weather, swimming, wading the pond for bass.

Frankly, the Julian calendar makes no sense to me. In this forced-labeling of order invented by humans, this clock and calendar record-keeping mindset, the ancients even deferred to the cosmos. The 24 hours divided by 6’s. The 28 days of the moon, seven times four, the weeks of a lunar month.

But somewhere, somehow, somebody thought the universe, the great cosmic clocks, could be relegated to paper, bound by calfskin.

Let’s randomly add a few extra days to our lunar months. Let’s add a whole day every four years because the universe will not coöperate, and change to fit our needs. Let’s ignore the giant flaming atomic ball burning a scant 94 million miles away. Let’s ignore the equator and the moon, and we’ll call New Year’s day, oh, I dunno, how does “January First” sound?

Gosh! January First! It sounds so beginning-like! Great name. On which point shall we place it?

Spring Equinox, when the waistband of our world swings past zero and the warmth of the sun climbs the latitudes?

Summer solstice? A New Year’s Day to mark the countdown to this very same point next year, the strawberry moon and the bursting of everything green and growing?

How about the Autumnal Equinox, as our hemisphere takes down all the green decorations, shuts down the machines of growth and expansion, admonishes mammals to “Prepare!”?

It seems Winter Solstice might be the best choice for your holiday. This is truly the day that begins our march into a new year.

From here, each day is longer, we’re making gains. Each day is a looking-forward to good changes. The relief at the end of winter, no matter how much you’ve enjoyed the season. The breaking of spring, turning the soil, planting and growing. Long days of summer, all the outdoors time you could want. The luxuriating under the starfield, lying on the lawn and watching for shooting stars.

Yes. This is without a doubt, the beginning of my New Year.

You may not hear from me tomorrow, as I’ll be celebrating tonight.

And tomorrow, Chuy and I will be out in it with a renewed fervor, calling to the sun, “Come on back!”. We’ll measure that extra moment at sunset.

From this tiny speck on this tiny rock, to anywhere the call can be heard:

Happy New Year!


Be at peace,



So Long, snow




Half the world lives in places that never see snow.  Some people live in places that are never without snow! I have the great fortune to live in New York State, almost dead-center. Here we have exciting, adventurous, beautiful snowy winters. We’re fortunate also to witness a true spring. It lasts a couple of months as bit-by-bit the effects of winter fade. Red Osier Dogwood and Pussy Willows are some of the earliest signs. This year I discovered Pussy Willows on the branches in February! (We had an odd warm spell). The dogwood practically glows red in the fields as it flushes in preparation for a spring bloom.

Last fall we planted more bulbs on the south side. We placed them in the ground directly in front of the kitchen window. Looking ahead, it seemed like a good plan to be able to see these first signs of spring at our earliest opportunity. Last week, a couple of little shoots pushed their way up through the frozen soil, surrounded by snow.

The next thing to watch for is Colt’s Foot, a small, short-lived flower that looks much like a Dandelion. Colt’s Foot is the first flower we’ll see here, and usually it makes its début in late March. Looks like it will be April this year, ’cause I haven’t seen one yet. This is truly an elixir, the signal to start the bursting of spring.

Saturday, Chuy and I took our hike to the top of Nishan’s Hill. Where just a few weeks ago I needed snowshoes to traverse the trail, now there are oval slabs of ice on the grass, frozen echoes of snowshoe-footprints. Now we can step around snow and walk on the grass, hidden beneath its frosty blanket for months.

As we hiked, I was avoiding the snow. What a “new” and refreshing experience to be able to walk on grasses. To move almost silently up the trail. Chuy walked as he pleased, sometimes in the snow, and sometimes not. At the top of the hill, I noticed he was walking mostly in the snow. He loves the snow, and burrowing his nose deep within it, sniffing for rodent life beneath the snowpack. A few bites of snow are as good as a drink of water. Then he turned and looked at me with his “C’mon!” look.  At that moment, I imagined that perhaps he wanted me to be walking in the snow, sniffing and biting too.

Gleefully I stepped into the snow drift, now barely a foot deep at its best, not more than two inches where we walked. I kicked up the snow at Chuy, dusting him with a spray of crystalline water drops. He seems to enjoy that. Just another form of play. If we gently throw snowballs at him, he likes that, too.

That’s when it struck me, that this is the end of the snow. I felt a little twinge. It’s been such a long, cold winter, with record snows. We should be glad to see the snow gone. Still, the snow is our special friend, mine & Chuy’s. Snow walks are intimate affairs, just he & I. Who else would go out for a “walk” at 16 degrees with a fifteen-mile-per-hour wind blowing, snowshoeing through two feet of snow? It is the very essence of solitude.

I paused for a moment to look at an impression in the ice. Today it was not springy, at about 18 degrees (F).  Ice had preceded the snow, and in this spot I found two prints in the solid ice, like fossilized footprints in the sand. Looking like glass, there was my footprint, a boot print prior to snow shoe time. Centered in my boot print was Chuy’s paw print, perfectly rendered in glass crystal. It spoke so much to my heart that I wished I had a camera with me, to capture that image.

Chuy turned 13 in January. His once-black and tan face is half-filled with white. The top of his head, too, is going gray. Each day I spend with him, each walk in summer or winter, feels precious. Numbered.

I danced about in the snow with Chuy. I kicked up snow with my boots, he flung snow with his nose. We sank deep in soft spots and we slipped and slid over icy spots. We gave Winter, the snow, the ice, a great send-off, a bon voyage, a “See You Next Year, Old Friend”. I savored the last moments of this simple wonderment. The millions of pine needles that litter the snow at the edges of the forest. The tiny and not-so-tiny tracks in the snow. Deer, mice, rabbits, fox…maybe a bobcat. Little tunnels dug beneath the snow in the depths of the season of darkness were now revealed, looking like the canals of Mars.

Snow Fossils

Snow Fossils

On the way back, I made it a point, went out of my way if needed, to keep walking in the snow.

Back at the house, enough snow had melted to expose several squeaky green balls on the lawn. Lost to the snowfall half a year ago, now they have returned. Ready for spring.

We’re ready for spring, too. Me, Chuy, the pines and the rabbits.

Winter can be hard work. Perhaps that’s why spring has such an appeal, such excitement around the change of season.

We’re going to miss the snow.

It’s moments like this that make me look to the big picture. Savor those memories of the snow. Shining brutal winter days. Ice storms like crystals. Snow Geese. A footprint.

Cast our eyes to the spring, and try not to think about the return of the snow. Another winter. People will think you’re crazy.

In my wishful dream, we’ll all still be here when it arrives.

View From The Top

View From The Top

Be at peace,



Return of the Sun

Sharon Center Sunset

Sharon Center Sunset

Once winter is on a roll, deep into December, turning the corner to the new year, I become accustomed to life in the dark. Leaving for work at 6:30, it’s dark. Arriving home at 6:30, it’s dark.  Sure, there’s sunlight during the workday, but the only time I can see the roof, the lawns, the runways and the barn is on the weekend.

I’m keenly aware in the fall, beginning late in July, really, of the shortening of days. On the walk with Chuy, we can see, viewing from the same point atop Nishan’s Hill, the sun gets a little more ahead of us day by day. I watch intently as the sun sets, trying to squeeze a couple extra views in before the red ball drops below the horizon.

Then—darkness falls. The depth of winter reminds me of the dark, heatless places in our solar system. The dark side of the moon must be just like this. Well below freezing and constantly night. Then again, there’s no wind on the moon, so these icy blasts that shake me like a willow would not exist there. By imagining the cold, dark expanses of the cosmos, I can feel fortunate that we reign over the elements with our modern human conventions. Electric lights, heat, fiberglass insulation, pellet stoves, TV.

One morning, seems like before I know it, there’s this huge nuclear fireball burning, sitting on the horizon as I drive to work. Yesterday that space was filled with snow-beleaguered pines and the morning star. Today, a big orange-red flame blinds me as I navigate the highway. This first turn, the first time I can see the sunrise at that place and time in the morning, is most exciting. Sure, it’s the same as last year, and will be the same as next year and probably roughly the next 4 billion years or so (give or take).

Maybe most folks don’t get as excited about this as I do. For me, it’s like watching the swallows return to Capistrano. Once a year, like your birthday. An event.

Tug Hill Snow Sun

Tug Hill Snow Sun

It’s strange to think that January is Aphelion, the point in the Earth’s orbit when we’re closest to the sun. Perihelion, our farthest distance from the sun in our annual orbit, occurs around the first week of July.  Odd to think we’re now a couple of million miles closer to the sun than we are in the summer!

In these, our bitter days of winter,

As bare trees stand, their feet cold in the snow,

And above our heads icy North winds blow,

And from my eaves hang frozen crystal splinters,


Let us then retire to our rooms,

Where we’ll sip hot tea and clasp our hands,

And know the warmth of love still stands,

As overhead the winter rage looms.


No embers of wood, nor burning coal,

As fire radiates its heat,

Upon our faces, upon our feet,

Can, as the heart, warm the soul.

Depth of Winter

Depth of Winter

There’s something to this cosmos-watching that brings me comfort. Gives me my sense of place in the universe. Truly seeing the universe is not easy.

A starfield on a crystal clear January night.  A moon behind ice-crystal clouds.

Some ice, some dark, some cold, some sun, all help aid the imagination.

Oh yeah, and a ride home in the light.


Be at peace,




Warm Winter

Kelly Station in Winter

Kelly Station in Winter

Three degrees Fahrenheit. 13 inches of ice on Canada Lake. Wind chill minus 10.

We label and measure each aspect of the season, our only sense of understanding. Or is it an illusion of control?

Wind moves through layers of clothing. As Chuy & I walk past pines, the wind is louder, buffeting the full branches laden with inches of powdery snow.

The frozen crystals splinter down upon us, peppering the face like tiny ice bird-shot, blasted from Winter’s shotgun.

Joe & the boys

Joe & the boys

We scoff at the readings on the thermometer. We boast of colder winters survived. We revel in the tales of hours and whole days spent suspended above lakes and ponds on a foot-thick floor of frozen water. We retell the tales of the biggest catches, the deepest snows, the thickest ice.

We think ourselves brave and bold as we dress in layer after layer, bundle ourselves like fine art prepared for shipping.  Some of the smarter ones will stay inside on a bitter day.

Snow on Pines

Snow on Pines

Up in Alaska, people live above the Arctic Circle. Never thaws. Permafrost they call it. It’s “winter” year round. We marvel at their lives, we wonder about their sanity. We are awe-struck by native people, having lived and fished and died here for thousands of years. Why? When humans crossed the Bering Sea land bridge, why did they stop here? Just another thousand miles and they could be living in seaside Seattle. Two thousand, and they’d be in Baja California. What enraptures us to live with the snow?

The Blizzard Lunch

The Blizzard Lunch

Out in the universe, the cosmos laughs. 3 degrees? You call that cold? Out here where there’s no atmosphere, there’s NO heat. NONE. Not zero or below zero, but what we humans have labeled “absolute zero”. Not a single calorie of heat energy. Relative to our thermometers, that would be about 450 degrees below zero Fahrenheit!

There’s something about being out there in the cold, particularly when I’m alone, that makes me feel that much more a part of the universe. Most of it is cold. Planets near stars are warm. Some of them very hot, of course. Hundreds of degrees. the sun itself, not the hottest star either, has surface temperatures measured in the millions of degrees.

But mostly, the cosmos is a big, empty, heatless space.



So, our three degrees today, all 3 of them, are way ahead of the universe’s curve.  It’s almost like a heat wave. Great to have a warm winter.

Pumpkin Patch in Winter

Pumpkin Patch in Winter

Next time you’re out there, shoveling a path to your door, skiing down a hill, boring a hole in the ice, if you think it’s cold…

I feel warmer already.


Be at peace,






Rural Zen: Winter

 FEB2010snow 020

As the door swings open, Chuy races past to be the first outside. He pauses just a moment as he sees the new fallen snow, ten or twelve inches deep, then leaps headlong into it. A few rolls on his back, paws nearly straight in the air, a gleeful snow bath. Then the nose digs deep, sniffing out some industrious rodent eking out a life below the snow. Then he’ll pick the snow up on the top of his nose and throw it into the air and try to catch it in his mouth. Finally, a look over his shoulder at me, as I clumsily move through the door and down the step wearing snowshoes.

And we’re off! Chuy leaps and makes turns in the air, frankly somewhat remarkable for a twelve-year-old, seventy-five pound Akita mix. “Scrunch, scrunch, scrunch” sound the snowshoes as they make their way across the yard, past the apple tree, past the barn. The sound tells us it’s very cold, certainly below twenty degrees. The snow makes a certain sound when temperatures are far below freezing.

Blizzard of February 11

Fifteen-mile-per-hour winds whip up snow devils and try to drive the cold and flakes into the carefully sealed places around my neck and head. The bright, full sun’s rays can barely be felt on the skin, hardly registering as warmth.

We trek eastward, walking the side of the runways, crossing to the rifle range trail. Birds flit about, diving and perching, singing as if it was spring. How can those tiny things be so oblivious to the cold and wind?

Crystalline snow drifts and piles at the edges of footprints, paw prints, rock walls and shrub lines. Flakes dance like diamonds before me, as shiny as gemstones, reflecting the sun. A glittering field of snow unfolds before us as we reach the top of the trail and turn north.

It’s wearing on me now. After the first quarter-mile my legs remind me that they don’t often wear boats on their feet nor try to trod through foot-deep sand. As muscles call for more oxygen, the top buttons are loosened, the scarf comes off. Even at fifteen degrees, the hike starts heating the core, demanding ventilation. The blast of icy air freezes perspiration on the skin, yet the relief from overheating is welcome.


The last two hundred feet rises steadily to the top of the hill. Another thirty feet in elevation, another hundred steps in fluffy drifts driven by the wind. The lines, arcs, swirls and swells decorate the hill, cover our path in three-foot deep crests. By now Chuy, typically insistent on leading, is behind me. The first half mile requiring him to leap off the ground to take the next step is wearing on him. Now I am breaking trail for him with the snowshoes, and he’s satisfied with second place for a time.

Ten more steps, five, three. Each one is a bit of labor now. One more. Then one more. Then one more.

And alas, we arrive at the top of the hill. There is no sound but “the sweep of gentle wind and downy flake.”.

Here at the top, I’ll pause and rest. Three hundred degrees of views (60 are pines), all below me, radiate vast expanses of bright white. Here and there are patches of green, tangles of gray-browns, distant visages of human encroachments; barns, a road.

The wind seems to pick up, sweeping two miles from the lee of Victory Mountain to the west. Rolling down the steep grade and plummeting into the hills and hollows of Engleville, and all its 26 residents (and their pets).

It’s not really uncomfortable, though the only exposed skin on the face reminds us it is brutally cold. Five layers of fabric and a workout helps. I can feel the wind pushing on me, making me sway like a sapling. This is visceral and tangible and exciting and real. I could shout at the top of my lungs from here and be heard by none other than Chuy.  I take another moment, another 300-degrees drink of the pristine snow, the stark landscape dotted with naked deciduous trees, frozen grapevines and pines that scoff at winter.

Chuy comes alongside. It can’t be more than five minutes since we reached this place, our summit, our beautiful, silent private place. Our alter. He’s too encumbered by the deep snow for the usual twenty-minute exploratory escapades over to the tree line, back toward the woods, down the slope behind Maggie’s pond.

He looks up at me as if to say “Well, I suppose…”

The wind is whipping up the hill, blasting us in the face as we turn westward and toward home.

As we pass the pines, without thinking, I speak aloud.

“The woods are lovely. Dark and deep.”


As the evening sky turns February Gold and January Blue, it seems the greens and yellows of our Mays and Junes are but a distant memory, a folktale, a myth.

Yet there is in this moment, in this cold, in this wind-driven snow, a sense of peace and belonging. 

As shadows grow longer, we brace and bear down into the wind.

Well, one of us does. The other is throwing snow in the air with his nose, and catching it.

“Scrunch, scrunch, scrunch…”



Circle of Seasons


Schoharie Creek Sunrise

It’s great to live in a place that has such changes of season. Sure, idyllic life on tropical islands has its appeal, but I’ve never known that so won’t miss it I guess.

Moving through the seasons is like an annual reminder of the larger circle in which we linger, that of our own mortal lives. Metaphors speak of the “springtime” of one’s life, call out May-December marriages, and observe happenings that occur “once in a blue moon”.

I’ve recently chosen not to choose a favorite season.

Little Bit on the Cape

Lots of folks love summer, our own short piece of idyllic tropical life, doled out in 3-month stints. Shirtsleeves or less, the smell of mown grass, flowers, swimming, vacations and camping. Naps in the hammock, afternoons by the lake, long days with sunset stretching the light out ’til nine o’clock. What’s not to love about summer?

Winter does nothing by half-measures. People love winter or despise it and rarely fall between the two extremes. Some will ski and ice-fish and snowshoe and snowmobile gleefully through the most inhumane conditions with mile-wide smiles and bright eyes gleaming beneath frosty eyebrows. Others will build warm fires and libraries, and take up origami and macrame, fly tying and model-building, one-eyed tv watching and after-lunch couch-napping.

A day on Duane Lake




Spring! Spring has the heart and eye of every poet born to the art. Spring leaps to mind in metaphors for everything from circles and cycles to hopes and dreams. From the embryonic starts of life itself to the romance needed to keep the chain going. Change! No more dark, no more brown, but green and yellow! No more snow-covered ground but…well, mud-covered ground (especially in the kitchen)..but soon to be green!




Noni among the flowers

Alas, there is Fall. Autumn has so many colors, smells and flavors. We enjoy the Earth’s bounty as all around us she prepares to mothball the northern hemisphere and concentrate on summer in Australia. Noisy flocks of Canada geese and silent flocks of European starlings assemble overhead to begin their southern trek. Apples are ready to fall from trees, pumpkins are ready to be spared from frosts only to be sacrificed to Halloween.

As the air cools with these advancing autumn evenings, our instincts tell us to prepare the dens for the winter.

I don’t remember when it began, maybe it’s a past-halfway thing in life, but fall finds me reminded of the unwavering march of time. As we stare into the barrel of another winter, I am reminded of life’s own circle.



Maxie & the milkweed

We each are born in late winters, grow through our springs, enjoy the short summer of marriage; children, living and loving, learning. As each year passes we find ourselves closer to the autumn of our lives, and as we vow to enjoy every moment of it, we may turn around one day to discover the trees are bare.



You can regret and mourn the approach of winter.

Or you can learn to fish through the ice.


Be at peace,



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