Snow, again

“Snow, snow, go away, come as drops of rain in the month of May.”

That was my sentiment this past weekend as I waded, knee-deep, in heavy granulated drifts that had blown here during the dark hours of night. I have to admit that I no longer enjoy the coming of winter.

The day previous, the sun had come out and was warm enough to form a thick crust on the fields that surround us – almost, but not quite, thick enough to hold the bulk of my weight. Then the snow came down covering the entire area with an additional three inches of fluffy white snowflakes. A more beautiful sight could never be painted.

Then the winds came up. At first, it was just occasional swirls gusting here and there, like dust bunnies on a drying August hayfield. But that didn’t last long; southwest winds joined hands and started piling drifts across the entire area. The fluffy white crystals, after tumbling and crashing over open fields and wastelands for mile after mile, soon became granular grains with the sharpness of sand. It literally sandblasted your face if you walked facing the wind.

I can remember times in a younger day, in a younger year, when I was in my double-digit teens, that I loved nothing better than a snow-blowing weekend. It was then that I would strap on the snowshoes, whistle for our wirehaired terrier dog as I reached for the .22 rifle that was racked over our kitchen door, and headed out across the snow-covered fields to hunt for game along hedgerows where the snow had piled several feet deep. This was a fun thing for me, as the wild game would snuggle, out of the wind, between the rising, deep banks of snow. Often they would burrow deep within, with no chance of being seen. But Sandy, our terrier, hunted by smell and was able to sniff out anything and everything that was so hidden.

We would often find small flocks of partridge or pheasants that hid themselves by just plunging, while in flight, headfirst into the soft snowbanks. Large flocks of snowbirds, down from the north, would spend their days seeking seeds on the open snow-blown fields and their nights by diving into the soft snow to spend the hours of darkness. We would often watch them, as the dusk settled in, flying low over the soft banks, and on selecting a suitable location would, all as one, swoop up and dive, peppering the slope of the snow that fell in behind them.

Our little terrier loved to chase out the rabbits, both cottontail and Jacks, both of which ended up in our soup pot. But the deer we just left alone. I never had the heart to shoot a creature so beautiful, but my brothers and father were not so inclined, leaving our table not lacking meat fresh from the oven, which complemented the soup pot, which forever simmered on top of the cast-iron wood stove. Such were the times.

Speaking of times, it is once again time for my congratulations to go out to a longtime reader and friend of mine who sent me my first fan mail some 29 years ago.

Gladys lives in Cambridge and will be celebrating her 99th birthday on Jan. 22. To you, Gladys, I send my love and wishes of happiness. Consider yourself hugged and hugged again. And the same, too, to your sister Isabel, who faithfully, over the years, brought you the paper from Acton. May God and health be with you both.

Take care, ’cause we care.       



Barrie Hopkins