Plopsicles of heavy snow thudded around us flack-thick as the smooth-skinned beech yielded up yestereve’s snow from their branches. The great thing about cross-country skiing is that you’re pumping out such a sweat that you’re always warm. Even greater, of course, is the beauty. Peaks, culverts, and copses that will soon become foliage jammed and unreachable, now, under this pristine blanket invite you in to wander at will through their most private passages.
Gliding ‘twixt the sylvan patriarchs which pillared aloft the impossibly blue sky, we could not help but stop and stare. Plunging stabs of snowy ice cast back the sun in flickering sheens. Our jaws went slack at this wonder. Yet pause not too long; skis that that overstay their rest will cake with wet slush, turning progress to a plod. (There’s a life lesson in there somewhere.)
For Lorraine and me, this day – March 21, Spring’s first dawning – offered a final hurrah before poles, boots, skis, and snowshoes would be stowed away with the memories, before the paddles and tandem bike took their place. This year had been a surprising delight with fall after fresh fall of dry, powdery snow. (You know it’s a good winter when you can ski the Jersey Pine Barrens and loose yourself in its endless backways.) But today was an unforeseen dividend. Just the day before, conversation had turned to peas and pruning. This final snowfall was a gift so beautiful it must be seized.
For miles Lorraine and I went around the woods and lake of the Plainsboro Preserve, previously home to a sand quarry plant which made the terra firma beneath the Meadowlands arenas. Startling deer in heavy winter dress, gliding red tail hawks, and brush-bustling songbirds, we shushed our way through Eden. One last time.
Finally, after batting the snow off the skis and clambering into the car, we headed home. As we drove, the radio announced, “This is a good day to stay indoors. The roads are slippery with melting snow….winter warning conditions are in effect. So don’t go anywhere unless you have to….”
Lorraine smiled at me with that knowing wisdom she possesses, “Oh yes. You can be too careful.”
Wishing you every Joy,
– Bart Jackson