First Snow

The weekend brings the first snow of consequence, enough to smooth the rough edges, cover the bootprints pressed into the half-frozen mud, stifle the cats’ usual pre-dawn pacing: They’re not so eager to get outside now. Later in the day I’ll drive north on Route 16, where the road is lined with tamaracks turned a deep gold. The afternoon light will be draining from the sky, and those golden trees will seem almost to illuminate my path. Where the tamarack corridor breaks I’ll see into the dusky forest, devoid of foliage but for the occasional beech, which hold their leaves through winter. Marcescence is the word for it. The leaves are known as marcescent leaves. Try saying it aloud. It’s a great word.

The boy gets up early each morning to chase deer. He’s not seen much yet. I get up early each morning to light the fire, watch the sky change, drink coffee, check email, read news I’d be better off not knowing. The snow-averse cats doze alongside the wood stove. Later, I go out to the barn to lift weights. I watch the cows through the opening of the big sliding door while I do deadlifts. One of the cows – the heifer – is licking the others’ neck, right along the collar line. The one being licked – Pip – has extended her neck for better access. It must feel so good.

I lift the weights up and set them down again and again. I love the solid sound of the clanking iron. I love the last, labored repetition of each set, the moment between thinking I might not make it and knowing I will. I love walking out of the barn 40 minutes later, my entire body flush with blood. It’s like a hum in my bones.

The day has arrived in full. The cows are at their hay. Someone has chased the cats outside and now they sit on the wide cherrywood sill of the door, paws tucked under, watching my approach through the falling snow.

Here’s a great version of a great song.

Here’s a great conversation with a great songwriter.