Cold drops like a hammer, and with it snow, not much but enough, and in the early hour I drive to the crest of the mountain, where an old logging road provides ingress to a vast swath of public forest. It’s eight below zero, the sun just clawing its way above the horizon; the hillsides ahead of me shimmer in light, though I remain in the shadows until I break out of the woods onto a shallow body of water known to the locals as Dead Moose Pond because they once found a decaying moose in its waters. The ice is thin, but my long skis distribute my weight, and I circle the edge of the pond twice, sun on my face, lungs full and satisfied, the snow of that magical consistency that allows me to imagine I might never tire, that I could circle this pond for hours and hours. I’m storing sunlight in my bones, I think, because that’s what it feels like, though I have no idea if such a thing is possible or even makes sense.
Despite the magical snow, I ski for only a scant hour, then return to the car, the old logging road still caught in morning shadow. My fingers and toes ache with cold, and I run the heat high as I descend the mountain, driving fast until I catch a flatbed truck carrying big bales of hay stacked high, flecks of dried grasses dancing in its wake.