The Clearest, Coldest Pond

The big storm hits with pounding rain and swirling winds, but the power stays on and the roof doesn’t leak, and in the night, toward the end of the maelstrom, the rain turns to an abundant snowfall – perhaps 5″ in total – so that by the next morning, the landscape is returned to its former winter glory. It is suddenly cold again, and at first light I ski to Dead Moose Pond, which is arguably one of my three favorite places on earth that I can think of at the moment. The early light is eerie and spectral, the conifer-green wedge of the surrounding forest like the filling of a sandwich between the grey bread of sky and ground. Despite the cold – it’s 5, maybe 6 degrees above 0 – the pond ice is rain-rotten beneath the new snow, and within a few strides I know I won’t be crossing, so I turn back and retrace my tracks to the road, then push north toward the summit of Wheelock Mountain, which is also arguably one of my three favorite places on earth that I can think of at the moment. And so it is that an hour later I find myself at it’s little-heralded-and-even-less-visited peak, which isn’t really a peak so much as a wooded plateau where the boys and I used to joke that every broken and bent over tree was evidence of a resident Sasquatch marking her territory. It’s been a some years since one of the boys has ventured up here with me; I try to remember the last time, the particulars of it, but I can’t, all I can recall are the Sasquatch jokes, all I know is that it happened, and that I surely failed to appreciate the possibility that it wouldn’t happen again. Or at least not for a very long time. But that is the way of it, I suppose, the appreciation so often coming too late for memory to salvage the specifics.

In the evening I fall asleep early, but not before I’ve opened the window above my head just an inch or two so that when I awake in the night I can feel the air drift across my face, just for a moment or two, like the tiniest, gentlest waves of the clearest, coldest pond you’ve ever jumped in.

Another year. I’m grateful to you all for reading and commenting. Happy New Year.

Also, here’s a nice one from Zach to close out 2022.