Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Winter Gems

"My Mountain" (also known as Varnum Mountain)
This morning broke with bright sunshine, blue sky and a temperature in the single digits.  Since I didn't need to be in the office until the afternoon I decided to head out to the land in Temple for an early morning xc ski by myself.

This land we bought has old logging trails and discontinued roads that border it and are used by ski mobiles in the winter.  There are hundreds of miles of these trails that are interconnected throughout the woods in Maine.  Many are run by local "sled clubs", which is true of the trails that exist a quarter of a mile in front of the house.  Well traveled, they make for great skiing without  the arduous task of breaking trail.  On an early Wednesday morning there would not be much traffic so I knew I would have the woods all to myself.

The snow sounded like Styrofoam as I glided down the lake towards the trail.  I love being out in winter as the signs of all the others who live here with me on this land are easily seen.  I followed the tracks of a little fox for a quarter mile before they veered off into the woods.  I picked up another padded track that was larger than the fox, probably a coyote.   This morning I wanted to go in a new direction and take a trail we hadn't explored yet.  At the first junction at one corner of our land I headed east..  Most of the trails on this land begin with a climb to ascend out of the valley.  This morning I didn't mind climbing first thing since it helped to warm me up;  the air was sharp on my face and my fingers were already numb.  Along this new slope I noted another kind of track, small, about 1 inch wide with distinct claws.  Tiny little tracks that never veered from the hard packed sled trail.  Further up the trail I saw the tracks leaped up the bank and disappear into the roots of one of the Poplar trees; I noted the fresh scat just outside this doorway.  I was surprised this little Mink would make it's home right beside this well traveled snow mobile trail but as I thought on this more I realized how smart this was ... the snow is damn deep this year with very little crust to support even a small Mink, traveling the packed trails saves a lot of energy.  Like me, this little gal didn't want to break her own trail and work too hard!

I climbed this hill for another half hour, up to where the trees opened up and I had a new view of the mountains that form my valley.  Having grown up on the ocean I am learning that mountains are as dynamic as the sea.  In the house we are rehabbing, we have sat looking out the picture windows and watched clouds dance on the top of Varnum mountain.  The wispy gasses of the cooler air aloft hit this large land mass and get held back, allowing them to gather strength and finally escape to billow down over the sides of the mountain or reach out towards the lake; spreading fingers across the sky that catch the scarlet rays of the setting sun and turn into fiery wisps.

Today, however, there was not a cloud in the sky and still these mountains command my attention. I stopped often to just look up at the blue of the sky above these peaks.  Directly over head the sky was the color of blue sapphire, but over the more distant mountains it turned a gorgeous aquamarine.  The evergreens still hold large clumps of  snow that look like huge, white, dangling pearls that are strung along the dark green branches.  The blanket of snow that dresses the sides of the mountain shimmer even brighter against that sapphire sky.

 There is such silence out there in those woods.  Today I brought another dear friend along with me in my thoughts as she faces a new challenge, one of chemo and radiation, surgery and more attempts to kill her before they hope to have her heal.  She would have loved being out there with me today and probably would have whipped my ass climbing the hills!  Today I want to embrace my ability to go out to these woods and to just be in that silence and all that blue.  Today I want to honor the friendships I have and to bring some of this blue brilliance back with me to share with one who is struggling.

Today I found winter gems with priceless beauty all around me.

Loving you all back,