Saturday, February 21, 2009

Wonders of the Morning

It snowed during the night. That’s the first wonder—unless you want to begin a little earlier and mention the little owl Hilary spotted in the tree outside the window last night. A screech owl, I guess, though it’s difficult to tell from a silhouette. This sighting raises the question of whether you would rather hear an owl or see one. In general, we conclude, its more pleasant to hear one. But it’s nice to see one every once in a while, because, well, seeing is believing.

The second wonder is the paper carrier, who placed the newspaper directly under the front door this morning from a distance of twenty feet without getting out of his car. (How does he do that?)
Then the first gulp of coffee, hot and rich in the throat, as I stare out the living-room window through the dark, admiring the fresh snow on the boughs of the big white spruce as it catches the yellow streetlight glare.

Wandering to the back door, I spot a cardinal swooping in low from the woods behind the house, then hopping branch by branch up to the feeder, making short sharp “pips” as he goes.

At this point there’s only one thing to be done. I get dressed and leave the house, load my skis into the car, and head down to Wirth Park (Hilary has to work today, Alas!) The sun is just rising, and as I head south, I catch a glimpse of the underbrush along the railroad track that runs parallel to Bassett Creek, down below the parkway. The tips of the grasses are dusted with snow and the sun is shining through them like an advertisement for creation.

The parking lot has not been plowed, but I park my car in the single slot left snowless by the grooming machine that is already out making the trails more accessible. Inspired by a sudden burst of energy, for the first time this winter I take the spur that climbs steeply up to the top of the mound behind the first hole on the par 3. It’s a great view from up there, the trees are in shadow, the snow looks blue, and the orange bark of the Scots pines is achingly beautiful in the early light.

Well, you know the rest. The glistening snow, the silence; the yellow branches on the giant willow trees down by the creek. The perfect conditions, marred only by the fact that the ground under this newly-fallen carpet is frozen and the poles don’t sink in all the way. The sheer pleasure of moving across the countryside.

The sky has become blue, now that the sun is up.I follow a few new twists of the trail on the top of the hill near the snowboarding towrope. A single ski-skater approaches me from behind but he veers off down a different trail.

I think about spritz cookies as I stare down at the thin even grooves lefts in the snow by the grooming machines. I think about order and disorder, nature and not-nature.

It’s a nice way to start the day.

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