Saturday, December 5, 2009

Just before snow

The first snow of the season is forecast for the coast tonight. I might have been able to tell even without the benefit of technology: a northeast wind of a certain heft; a sky uniformly gray and the same color as the ocean; clouds not quite thick enough to obscure the sun entirely; the weak glow of a wintry sun; temperature that feels colder than what the thermometer says; air spiced with Canada and chewy from the woodsmoke blowing from everyone's stoves.

As I walk I look especially intently at what remains of color in the woods. Besides grays and blacks and browns, there isn't much. The winterberries boast various reds shading into orange. Long grasses in the wetlands have turned into light-colored hay. Short grasses on the lawns are still partly green. The mosses are neon-green this year, from all the rain, and they have colonized rocks on the forest floor, poking through the leaf bed like bright Pacific atolls. A few yellowed leaves cling to the bushes at the side of the lane.

In the morning it will be hard to pretend it's still fall. The landscape will be black-and-white, but choices will become grayer, more complicated. It will not be as easy to be productive, or optimistic.

The danger of winter is living too much in the head. The pleasure of winter is living much more in the head. Animals of all kinds need to hibernate and be refreshed.

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