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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window

Issue Date: November 24, 2021

Jane Thibodeau Martin

First Snowfall

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We got our first significant snowfall earlier this month. The weatherman was predicting an overnight three to four inch snowfall. Occasionally a forecast is inaccurate, but this one was right on the money, and I knew that when I was briefly awake at 3 a.m. My first thought was that I had slept way longer than my normal 5 a.m. wakeup, because the woods were so light I could see the familiar individual trees. Then I realized it was the bright snow cover that created the illusion of approaching dawn, and I fell back asleep, enjoying a thought of a morning dog walk through the snowy woods.

There was enough snow to make the normal walk a bit of a workout, and that's good. The dogs and I checked out the main woods trail, noting the travels of the deer. We had to stop so the dogs could sniff the stump at the fork in the trail. We know now, thanks to the trail camera, that a local fox uses that stump as a marking spot. The dogs check out the message, and they both mark as well. Mike notes that the following night the fox returned and placed a trump card on top of that, and so this conversation between the canine cousins continues.

I always marvel at how silent the woods seem, once the crunchy fall leaves are cushioned by the snow. The only sound as we walk is the jingling of dog collars and our footsteps. The contrast from our walk a few days before, scuffing up millions of dry leaves, is remarkable.

The evergreen branches bow low under their white burdens. They yield to the weight and pressure of the sticky snow, rather than fight against it. The tree's strategy of "bend before you break," contains a lesson for me. Sometimes it is best to give way gracefully, and spring back again when the pressure is less. A timely lesson; I welcome insight from trees.

After leaving the woods we cross the naturalized field area we maintain for pollinators. Once a year Mike brush hogs it, to prevent shrubs and especially the opportunistic popples from taking it over. The annual disturbance of the cover creates an opportunity for the rodent hunters, and I watched a hawk hover, dive and fly away with his catch. The tracks in the snow reveal another creature taking advantage of this opportunity, a small animal traveling from one grass tuft poking out of the snow to another. At one, there was evidence of digging and a tussle, with the tracks then heading straight for the woods cover. I suspect it was a fox, although it could also have been a neighborhood barn cat.

After I returned the dogs to the house, I couldn't bear to take off my winter outerwear without doing a quick check of the newest deer stand. The little clearing it overlooks was beautiful, with some greenery near the creek still peeking through the snow cover. I just stood there, and inhaled the silence deeply. Without the jingling of the dog tags, and no wind, our snowy woods is one of the quietest places I ever visit. There is something about this deep quiet that I would miss terribly if I lived somewhere warm all the time. I love the sound of ocean waves on a beach, too, but that sound; steady, predictable and rhythmic, is a different kind of soothing. This is the absence of anything, and sometimes our overwhelmed brains crave that.

It will be a long winter. The magic of this first snowfall will help sustain me through it. I am grateful to be healthy enough to get out to the woods and experience it; grateful to live in a lovely place like this; grateful to be alive. At 65, I find more and more to make me feel gratitude; not less.

A return of the "song stuck in my head." This one goes back to 1959 when I was three years old. "I Only Have Eyes for You," by the Flamingos. What put it on my brain song track is a current commercial featuring an elderly couple slow dancing to it, with the song playing in an endless loop thanks to the advertised product. The music is a style called "Doo-Wop", which was popular well before my time of paying attention to music. There is just something about the song - sweet, soothing and gentle. A love song; but one of innocence and restraint. So, so refreshing.

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: JanieTMartin@gmail.com.


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