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First Snow

The weekend brings the first snow of consequence, enough to smooth the rough edges, cover the bootprints pressed into the half-frozen mud, stifle the cats’ usual pre-dawn pacing: They’re not so eager to get outside now. Later in the day I’ll drive north on Route 16, where the road is lined with tamaracks turned a deep gold. The afternoon light will be draining from the sky, and those golden trees will seem almost to illuminate my path. Where the tamarack corridor breaks I’ll see into the dusky forest, devoid of foliage but for the occasional beech, which hold their leaves through winter. Marcescence is the word for it. The leaves are known as marcescent leaves. Try saying it aloud. It’s a great word.

The boy gets up early each morning to chase deer. He’s not seen much yet. I get up early each morning to light the fire, watch the sky change, drink coffee, check email, read news I’d be better off not knowing. The snow-averse cats doze alongside the wood stove. Later, I go out to the barn to lift weights. I watch the cows through the opening of the big sliding door while I do deadlifts. One of the cows – the heifer – is licking the others’ neck, right along the collar line. The one being licked – Pip – has extended her neck for better access. It must feel so good.

I lift the weights up and set them down again and again. I love the solid sound of the clanking iron. I love the last, labored repetition of each set, the moment between thinking I might not make it and knowing I will. I love walking out of the barn 40 minutes later, my entire body flush with blood. It’s like a hum in my bones.

The day has arrived in full. The cows are at their hay. Someone has chased the cats outside and now they sit on the wide cherrywood sill of the door, paws tucked under, watching my approach through the falling snow.

Here’s a great version of a great song.

Here’s a great conversation with a great songwriter.

14 thoughts on “First Snow”

  1. Hi Ben…Man, I want to find that spot…the one, “…between thinking I might not make it and knowing I will.” Has to be a neat moment.
    “Marcescent.” Had to look that one up.
    Thanks for this post. I needed it.

  2. 2 of my favorite artists together. Had no idea. Nice one.

    On Wed, Nov 17, 2021 at 4:26 PM Lazy Mill Hill Farm wrote:

    > Ben Hewitt posted: ” The weekend brings the first snow of consequence, > enough to smooth the rough edges, cover the bootprints pressed into the > half-frozen mud, stifle the cats’ usual pre-dawn pacing: They’re not so > eager to get outside now. Later in the day I’ll drive north ” >

  3. We haven’t had more than a dusting of snow in eastern Nebraska, but it has been down to the low 20s and it is only a matter of time. It was over 70° yesterday and the day before but today was cold and blustery. Crazy time of the year, every year. None of that New England “over the river and through the woods” stuff!

  4. Ben – What a life you have built for yourself and the family – a life many are now beginning to be drawn to again. It’s so good to see others going ‘back to the land’ to seek what all our ancestors lived. What’s old is new again – and so it goes.

    Loved the description of the leaves and the new word to explain what they are, not that I will have much use for it – but always good to learn ‘just in case’. Never know if some crossword puzzle or Scrabble game will call for it. 😉

    Btw, any new photos to share of the old (new) homestead? Just wondering how it developed compared to your old place.

    ~ Wendy

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  5. Marcescent! One of my favorite words! I learned it in one class or another years ago and it has stuck. I always thought it would be my ace in the hole at a trivia game one day but it hasn’t happened yet. 🙂 Other than that, I have often thought it would make a great name for a cat. Come here, Marcescent! Maybe an orange tabby? Fun to think about.
    Thanks again for the word pictures, something you do so well. And, Happy Birthday (in case you don’t post again before then.) Have to remember my fellow Scorpios.

    1. Hi Dawn, that would be a great name for a cat. Thanks for the birthday wishes… strictly speaking, I’m actually a Sagittarius, though pretty sure I’m right on the cusp of Scorpio.

      1. True! Being on the line must mean you have some Scorpio traits, if you believe that sort of thing – passionate, persistent, brave, loyal, fiercely curious, etc. which are also sometimes described as controlling, secretive, obsessive, etc. 🙂 A little introspection is never a bad thing, right? Be well!

  6. I don’t tend to post/comment, but both what you wrote, and the links you provided, were good for me this morning. Thank you.

  7. Tell Rye good luck with his deer hunting from me.

    Al Roker reports that there is a major storm heading your way for the Thanksgiving holiday. ‘Hope that your woodshed is full and that the rest of your pre-winter preparation have been completed. I still have some hoses to roll and a few other small jobs to do before the weather decides to stay cold.

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