Lacking a thermometer, I gauge how cold it is by icy calligraphy on the living room windows: a little rime means we’re nosing zero, but once designs like down feathers and fractals show up—oh boy, we’re trolling in the negatives. This morning: a whole pane of paisleys, which the town website confirms is -17.
To visit the falls, I put on double everything—pants over leggings, socks over tights, hat upon hat. The dog meanwhile wears his usual, fur. We set off walking north, up the road, and duck into the woods just before the bridge.
In the summer we come up here all the time to cool off in the hemlock shaded brook. There are two tiers of falls, and after a summer storm, the water’s commotion, its pour and splash is louder than all the noise in my mind.
But today, as the pug and I plod along the snowy trail, the brook alongside appears more like white alley than a waterway. Around us branches are snow-clothed, slumping. As we approach the ice- coated falls, I am thinking about an article I read over the weekend stating that the Northeast’s snow season may be half as long by century’s end, and confined to the highlands, leaving most ground bare.
This white washed world— an endangered species?
Presently my north country neighborhood is utterly smothered, we are in the unmistakable heart of winter. Where the brook’s waters roar in April, it only murmurs now— lapping, bumping under the ice.
The dog is ready to head back, and as we scramble toward the house and its hearth, I consider that perhaps this ordinary, deep- freeze may one day be a rare experience. Years from now, I might be the oldest lady in the room, regaling the youth with my unbelievable snow stories. So, for the time being, I look closely and carefully, pause one moment longer, before opening the house door and coming in from the cold.