City outplayed

After a long stretch of ‘mud season’, I am reveling in winter – the snow finally arrived. Because it started wet, there are great gouts of frosting weighing down the pines and because there was wind, there’s a solarized etching of ice on the windward side of the hardwoods. Because it ended dry, french curves of drifts and scoured terraces are shaped in the wind. Winter animates the world so totally – I don’t know how people live in one-season places.

After the convivial sweat as we all shove it out of the way of the cars and paths around the farm, I can step into my skis. This is the day that the wind hath made, so I fly down the pond so I can come upwind through the protecting woods.

Smooth momentum with each giant step down the half mile or so of the lake, urged on by the air along the snow, avoiding the areas that might be soft or thin with the secret current underneath. Above, a single large hawk circles down the wind above me – what’s she doing here in winter? the pickings must be slim. I don’t fall through, in spite of my Mother’s warnings, and I clamber up into the pines near the beaver dam at the downwind end.

I live a totally urban life – smartphone, computers, planes and hotels – but I get to be here in the deep silent country when the snow falls. The high branches susurrate above me, cracking off the ice that falls like daggers as the skis skitter easily between the trees, or fight their way uphill through the underbrush.

Finally I reach the plowed banks of our little road, crossing onto the clamdigger’s path to the brickyard pond, where the stream and I emerge onto the cove for a full blast of wind, moving in dark cat’s paws across the salt water, that lifts my cheeks.

Back in the woods, climbing the hill to the orchard, sweaty again as I herringbone and parallel (Lateral Lines a’blazing) up the side of the ledge to the line of pines and into the field – and into the full force of the wind.

Surrounded by swirling djinns of show between the imploring apple trees, I can hardly see a foot when they spin around me casting spells, a cheek-scouring 3-D fantasia unmatched by Avatar. The bank on the side of the dirt road that lines the orchard picks up the snow in dancing plumes that outmatch the Bellagio’s water feature that I gawked at with the other tourists recently in Vegas. Get below the road in the lower field to escape the snow’s scrub to see a winter sunset over the river, a 3-toned pastel richer than any Rothko I might see at NY’s MoMA. Like any winter sunset, it lasts, lasts longer than my exposed face – the rest of me is plenty warm – and I turn in the last of the light to go join Quan at the fire.