January 11, 2014

One week after the blizzard and it is over fifty degrees, and sunshine and vitamin D and westwind burn. And I do the Genehouse walk and it is like sailing. The hills are saturated; the rocks are glistening with winter’s sweat. The river’s ice sweats and a lone great blue heron plies the sinkholes along the island. Eagles perch on glass and aim heads down; nervous gulls aim heads up.

I shed coat, hat, gloves and I sweat my way west on the River Road walk. A sluice of snow ahead and birds speckle its surface. I ski the snow drift, stopping when I hear excited chirping at my feet. Two tufted titmice perch on my right hiking boot. One of them pecks at my sock. What do they think I am? A sunporch above the stream. I hum, they chirp . . . and they launch to the top of icicles, dripping off a sharp rock.

I head for Stroke Hill, up Stanka Lane. Hummingbird Man watches through his picture window and waves. The hill is a miles-long shadow iced by light. Earth and the woods are freckled brown and bronze. At midhill, bushes are budded, heralding a fifth season: winterpsring. Nature no longer has a slow gear.

I hear a commotion, high atop the hill, where last summer I saw a fairy ring bullseye in the meadow. The trees to the west are ringed with light. The moon hangs over the horizon, full and azure blue. I enter the halo and the forest sings: bluejays and robins, pale blues and reds, tens of them singing, cacophonous like a Charles Ives symphony, all aligned to the sun.

I pass Farmer Orville’s house, hoping for cookies and coffee, but I see a truck in the driveway—company—and on I walk. All driveways are creeks, all roads are rivers. I sink to my boottops in sweating mud, headed for home. The driveway is butterscotch. The squirrel with no tail is butt up in a snowpile, digging for treasure. The goldfinches hail the God of Seeds.

I am as soaked as if it were an August day. But August means fall, early winter. The January thaw is a finger pointing springward.

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