Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Snowy Evening

It's beautiful outside this evening. Snow thickly falling, quiet, quiet. I love the juxtaposition of snow at night, the bright and the dark. When I grew up in Michigan, where stars not only existed but were seen on a regular basis, a crisp evening with sparkling stars overhead and snowy swirling and twinkling below was a foretaste of heaven. The occasional moonlight ski was a treat to be savored.

There were moonlit morning skis, too. I remember getting up early with my dad to ski before he went to work. This must have been when I was home as an adult, finishing my second year of law school while Carl was working in Chicago. Being anything but a morning person, dragging myself out of bed for early am workouts has never been my thing. But having company while skiing is far more enjoyable than my solitary daily jaunts on the concrete paths of Oak Park.

So I'd climb out of bed, mumbling and shivering, emulating my years of teenage gruffness and complaining about being cold and tired. And we'd drive over to local recreation area. Proud Lake or Kensington Park were the usual haunts, though my memories of morning-dark skis are all at Proud Lake.

Proud Lake had those stands of pines one often sees, set straight as soldiers for row after row. I think I remember that those were often planted during the Depression by Civilian Conservation Corps workers. I've skied in those kinds of stands throughout Michigan with great delight. But it was deep and dark in those woods on those mornings, even with a strong moon shining on us. I was always a bit spooked by them, and happy to be back into the less thickly wooded deciduous forest areas.

There were animals about and, if we had time and inclination, we'd stoop to decipher the prints. Deer, of course, though deer were far less plentiful at that time. Rabbits and mice and other more esoteric wildlife, like foxes, were often noted. My favorite denizens of the woods had no footprints: the owls. Sometimes heard, rarely seen, always suspected.

The snow wasn't usually great on those jaunts. This was mid 1980s, not the huge snow dumps of the 70s. I remember many slippery skis with ice-riven tracks. And I remember more than a few sticky skis with long stretches of tracks caked with mud. But the company was pleasant, and the ambiance most lovely, even on the coldest or iciest or muddiest of morns.

I miss those skis. :-)



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