December 01, 2020

It is snowing!


Snow brings a special quality with it – the power to stop life as you know it dead in its tracks.

-Nancy Hatch Woodward


Winter has come like a sucker punch.  One day, we are walking on the beach at Cape Cod, enjoying the warm fall sun and feeling like we have accomplished something challenging, then, just a couple of days later, we’re floundering in cold wet rain.  Within a week, four inches of snow arrives and the temperature drops to the low twenties.  Ouch!  Now, Waldo and I walk no matter what the weather is, but Christine, Phyllis and I decided to postpone the last leg of our trek, from P’town to Race Point, until after this frosty blast has passed.  We want to avoid walking in the surf, barefoot, in frigid gale force winds — we really would like to enjoy the capstone of our journey, not just tolerate it.

So, here we are, Waldo and I, walking on the Marlborough Rail Trail in the middle of a snowstorm.  In the icy cold wind.  I’m wearing a tee shirt, under a heavier shirt, my parka with the hood up, and my rain jacket over all.  I also put a pair of gaiters on over my walking shoes to keep the snow out.  I’m toasty, except for the exposed skin of my face which is somewhat numb.  The white stuff isn’t so deep, nor so slippery, that it takes a lot of work to walk in it and we make good progress.  Waldo, of course, is enjoying the early wintery whiteness, bounding and rolling in it and scooping up mouthfuls of soft, but heavy, snow.

We aren’t entirely alone, either.  There aren’t any other dogs that we pass, but there are a few walkers, joggers and even two bicyclists out and about.  Many of the trees have a lot of leaves still hanging onto their branches (apparently, they missed the memo too).  The leaves and branches grab onto the heavy snow as it falls, weighing them down and causing them to bow over the trail and touch the ground.  These, we have to meander around, which isn’t much of a problem because they don’t completely block the trail.  It does seem a little strange, though, to see so much snow on the trees while they still carry so many leaves.

The undergrowth has died back by now, exposing the landscape beyond.  I can see a lot farther through the tree trunks than I can in midsummer.  In most places, I can see all the way to the edge of civilization – streets, houses and traffic.  Still, there are deep gullies that fan out from where I stand and into the distance, revealing snow-drenched foliage out as far as a mile or so.  The usual squirrel or chipmunk is nowhere in sight and the birds that haven’t gone south must be holed up in their nests, all fluffed out in their wintery down, because I neither see nor hear them.  I don’t know how, but Waldo is still able to sus out sticks and he has two in his mouth most of the time.

In not too many more weeks, this kind of walk will be the rule.  Months will go by without the snow and ice completely disappearing from the ground.  Snow banks and slushy walks will make it impossible to return home without wet feet.  Cold winds will threaten to frostbite my nose and fingers.  There will be days when the snow is so deep, it will take a full hour to plod through it for even a mile.  On some days, I won’t be able to find a place to park before we start our walk because the lots won’t yet be plowed.  Spring will beckon like a coquette, causing me to count the days until it’s warm enough to walk in shirtsleeves.  But that time isn’t yet.  The forecast is for sunny, warm days with temperatures in the high sixties just a week from now.  Not for long, just for a couple of days.  But long enough for us to complete our New York Border to Cape Cod trek.

In shirtsleeves!


Road? What road?

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