A barren, white pine stands in stark contrast to the surrounding whitewashed forest, along the shoreline of an Adirondack Pond.
As I gaze out my office window, a stiff and steady west wind is sending tiny tornados of snow, tumbling across the frozen ground in my side yard, and finally the wind-driven snow is beginning to pile up.
After putting up with yet another dry, unseasonably warm and notably extended autumn, it appears winter has finally arrived.
The fierce, winter winds of the new season whip the landscape with a ferocity that appears to punish occupants for imposing yet another unnatural delay on the earth’s natural rhythms of seasonal adjustments.
Winter is the only season that shares its wealth across the span of man’s marked time, as it punctuates the calendar year from beginning to end. This may be the reason the season seems to be so persistent in the Great North Woods.
Nearly all the seasons descend upon the landscape gradually. Spring’s greens push their way up through the soil, as buds slowly appear among the previously, barren wooden skeletons of the past season's forest.
Wildflowers will dot the marshes, as songbirds and peepers begin to sing from the bogs, as if announcing the arrival of the new season.
Summer follows slowly along, in a push and shove contest with the spring, and it isn’t considered complete until the waters finally warm up enough to accept swimmers, as lighting bugs begin to blink in the warm, night air.
Eventually autumn rolls around and in no time it to gracefully unfolds like an Old Persian rug, to unveil all of the finest splendors a fine forest can afford.
The fall season arrives as a grand kaleidoscope of colors takes over the land, and slowly the sweet, moist, pungency of decay begins to perfume the mountain air.
A host of natural sights, sounds and scents continue to tickle the senses, as the season wears on, until slowly, gradually, and almost imperceptibly, the woodlands begin to shed their natural Technicolor Dreamcoats.
Soon, nothing is left beyond the sad, stark, black, brown and grey skeletons of hardwoods, which hang forlornly from the hillsides as the season finally limps and whimpers to a completion.
Winter is the sole exception to the rule. Despite the fact the season often begins with a series of coughs, spits and sputters like a wheezing, old codger, there is no way to escape the occasion when the cruelest of seasons finally crosses the barren threshold of a landscape that has been nearly stripped of all earthly delights.
Winter stands alone among the seasons with its formidable capacity to instantly transform the landscape. It whitewashes the earth in a process that is always magical to observe, and yet often too brutal to bear.
Unlike all of the other seasons, winter is a period of non-scents, there are no flowers, no smelly bogs, and no perfumed winds. One would expect a bit of vanilla flavor at least!
Indeed, the cross winds of winter appear to white wash of all the earthly flavors from the land. Yet there always remains an undeniable sweetness which extends far beyond the apparent bitterness of the season.
Winter doesn’t arrive gradually, as do the other seasons. It simply unfolds all at once, carpeting the earth in soft, gentle monotones of monotony, which serve to highlight the black ribbons of rivers and streams, and the dark, sullen dots of endless lakes and untold ponds.
No, winter doesn’t grow anything beyond ice, snow and a whole lot of fun!
Unlike the other seasons, which graciously wait on Earth’s front door while graciously waiting for permission to enter, winter tends to barge right in. It is bitter and bold in its disregard for human comfort.
Winter doesn’t knock, and it doesn’t wait. The season is an impatient traveler and it answers to no one in particular. Before you know it, it spreads a fresh, frosty topping from the valleys to the mountaintops, and all points between.
Winter storms onto the earthly stage in a full on, frontal attack with a natural carpet that unfurls across the barren earth. It is a hard and cruel season, despite its surprisingly soft underbelly.
Fortunately, the current storm continues to deliver a deep, sweet utilitarian cover of fresh powdery snow. I far prefer to have a useful mess of the white stuff rather than a simple short, squat cosmetic dusting.
We deserve a useful snow, one that supports all sorts of snow sports. Snow is the lifeblood of the regional economy, as it fires the furnace of tourism.
I’ll gladly pay my penance with a shovel in my hand, but right now, I want to ski, and ride, and glide for this is the season, and I have many good reasons to have it on my side.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.