Alfred C Thompson II
Ring! Ring! Ring! The man reluctantly woke from his sleep and answered the phone. “Who is it?” His eyes struggled to focus on the red glow of his alarm clock. “Hey, Jim” a voice that was much too cheery for this hour of the morning responded. “No school today.” “What? What are you talking about?”
“It’s a snow day. That rain we were supposed to have last night turned to snow. A lot of snow. School is closed today. Call the next person on the list and go back to sleep. See you later!”
This is early for a snow day. They only distributed the phone tree two days ago. Jim stumbles to the kitchen to find the call list. His sleepy eyes finally find the next person on the list and he punches in the numbers. Jane picks up on the first ring. She has school children of her own and they’d awakened her early to wait for the news which Jim now delivered. “Jane, snow day.” “Great! Thanks!” And the phone clicked. Jim knew that Jane would be busy with her kids being home all day but that she would probably enjoy it. Jim was going back to bed. A found day was enjoyed best well rested in his opinion.
Two hours later Jim awoke on his own. The first thing he did was to check the snowfall. There had been a lot of snow. Jim estimated more then 6 inches, maybe even 8. He didn’t look forward to clearing off his car or running his snow blower to clear the driveway. In fact he decided that might have to wait. The snow had stopped and the sun was shining. There are other things to do with snow than shovel it.
Jim made his breakfast and started a pot of milk for hot chocolate. The chocolate went into a thermos to wait for the next step. The breakfast was eaten and dishes put away. Well, at least they made it into the sink.
Jim dressed warmly and found his boots. The thermos in its carrying strap was hung over his neck. Out the back door he went. The door to the shed opened with difficulty because of the snow but it did open. Jim found the snow shovel and moved it out of the way. He’d need it later but that wasn’t what he wanted now. There they were – the snow shoes. He found the poles against the wall behind the hanging pair of snow shoes. Those he stuck in the snow outside the door of the shed. He pulled out his folding stool and opened in next to the poles. Quickly he grabbed the snow shoes and left the shed, being sure to close the door against the lightly blowing snow.
A minute later the snow shoes were on and he was picking a direction. The right hand path into the woods he decided.
A short walk later and he was over a low stone wall and into the woods. The outside world was far behind as he entered a world of black and white. Even the evergreen trees seemed drained of color by the expanse of fresh snow that covered the ground and everything else in sight. The quiet was palpable. The snow dampened all sound but for the faint blowing of the wind through the trees.
A short pause to look around and take a few deep breaths and his relaxation became complete. Slowly he started through the woods keeping an eye out for what he might see. He didn’t have to wait long. Across his path was a strange looking trail. Small little footprints with a thick line between them. A porcupine. The trail was easy to follow and ended at the base of a tall tree. Jim looked up the height of the tree and found the porcupine. It was resting at the end of a branch that didn’t look strong enough to hold the funny looking beast. The quills made the animal look larger and heavier then he really was. The porcupine was probably napping after making a meal of the soft ends of the branch.
Time to move on. Ten minutes later he found rabbit tracks. Those would be more difficult to follow has they quickly disappeared into thick underbrush. Jim was amazed at how the snow which covered so much of the plant life made it so much easier to see signs of animal life.
Deeper into the woods he went, a goal in mind beyond just looking for tracks.
Soon he found a set of deer tracks. He knew that following the tracks to his right would take him to a stream. If he went left he might find where they had last slept so that is the way he went.
Minutes later he found nests of leaves. Four different spots where the snow was disturbed and piles of leaves were visible. The deer had no doubt slept their keeping worm during the storm. Once the storm ended they would have shaken off the snow and gone for food and water. Tracks from each nest went is a slightly different direction but all basically to the south were the stream was. They probably wouldn’t still be there but Jim decided not to try to find them anyway. Let them enjoy the peace and quiet as much as he was. He had another goal anyway.
Another 10 minutes and he was walking down an abandoned road. Abandoned over a century ago it had never been paved and hadn’t been maintained in half a century.
A few minutes later the road, such as it was, ended. Once there had been a bridge there. Several times kids had built makeshift bridges for their dirt bikes and snowmobiles but there was none there now. What there was there was a bench he had placed there earlier in the fall.
The bench was about ten feet off the road and about 15 feet from the end of a pond. The frozen pond was white with a thick covering of snow. The unaware might be tempted to walk out across it but not Jim. Under the snow the springs that fed the pond kept the ice thin in all but the coldest weather in the middle of winter. Jim was content to brush the snow from the bench and sit along side the pond. The thermos was opened and the lid with filled with hot steaming chocolate. Jim surveyed the pond and the nearby woods. When the chocolate was gone it would be time to hike home, clear off the car and find the snow blower to clear the driveway. But until them, Jim would enjoy the calm and the quiet and recharge himself with nature.
Copyright Alfred C Thompson II 2007