April 2001 Musings:
Hanging Up the Snowshoes
Well, March came and went without my ever getting my musings to Rose to post on the site. I actually did write a draft of them on my way out to the midwest last month, but I never have gotten them finished and typed into the computer. Oh well, it's been that busy a winter and spring. I've decided to forgo formality and post April's Musings before March's. If I ever get the March Musings done, I'll send them along and you'll find them posted in the archive musings.
Here's a poem I wrote for the astonishing month of April 2001 in Ashfield. Hope you enjoy it!
Hanging Up the Snowshoes In the valley towns, crocus forsythia and daffodil confidently declare the arrival of spring. Not so up in these hills I love. My snowshoes still hang ready on the outside of the woodshed door. I have trudged into the woods every day this week through corn snow every day more rotten beneath my weight. Trudged on awkward webbing all the way down to the falls. Spring, maybe, in the valley, but here the going is slow as several feet of snow still linger in the cool half-shadows of winter-bare trees. The creek has swollen gradually as slowly the snow recedes first atop the boulders then around the bases of the tree trunks. Beech holds its leaves all winter. Still in April the husks rattle in the wind though many have let go to litter the snow beside the path. Today is sunny and warm. The fierce wind that bangs the door of the sheep barn is fierce in volume only. The pile of winter's plowings - packed hard and icy against my yesterday's shovel - does not stand a chance against the warm air this wind drives relentlessly into its shrinking remains. It is early evening before I get out to the woods. I won't be fooled by the day's warmth. I grab my snowshoes from the nail as I step out my front door. The upper path down to the first creek crossing is open to the sun, the ground bare for days now. Just above the bridge I come to the deep snow, my boots suddenly sinking in above their tops. I smile to myself as I buckle on my snowshoes and continue down to the bridge - still a good foot of snow on it, but the creek has risen and its waters lap the upper edge of the planks. Not far across the bridge, the path itself becomes a creek. I unstrap and step out of the harnesses, wade in my Bean boots through water and mud and leafy debris. Woods in the throes of spring are like life - unpredictable complex and messy. I am grinning and wading and sloshing, ducking branches as I work my way deeper into the woods. Let me at these messy woods for Spring is surely here. Nothing can stop her now - nor me, I do declare. The sun is sinking lower. I head uphill. Snowshoes still in hand, I plunge into the drifted snow back across the bridge in blithe disregard of any snow-overflow into my boots. On up to the bare ground of the last hill and round the last trees into my dooryard. I reach for the empty nail to put my snowshoes where they have hung close at hand all the long winter - and then stop. Triumphantly, I lift the latch to the woodshed door step into the shadows and turn to the nail on the wall to my right. These snowshoes have served me well this long winter of unending snowfall, carried me faithfully into my beloved woods. I hang them ceremoniously. They deserve a good rest and I do believe Spring has arrived.
April 22, 2001