December 2012


Cindy Lane to Clapboard Hill Road 002

Massive blow-down

Thursday, for the third time, Cherry and I set out to walk the Menunkatuck Trail between Cindy Lane and Clapboard Hill Road (the first time, we lost the Cindy Lane trail head; the second time, Cherry had car problems). Today, our car maneuvers brought us close to four deer leaping across the road before us, as they merged into the woodlands along the road margins. Eventually, we parked one car on Clapboard Hill Road and the other on Cindy Lane and, at 9:00AM, headed south on a sunny day that started mid-thirties and ended mid-forties.

Our hike was easy and steady, as we traveled through forested lands, skirted open fields, and glimpsed charming tidal marshes along the East River. Our conversation drifted to holiday plans, our perspectives on Newtown, and personal updates. Cherry was excited to announce she had given six-month’s notice of retirement to her employer and would be a free person starting in July!

Hugging the edge of an open field, we were surprised to hear voices and turned to see three women and three dogs were coming close behind. The women quickly leashed two dogs but one exuberant golden retriever (are there other kinds?) kept running pell-mell toward us, so we stopped to let him catch up before collapsing. We exchanged pleasantries and the women surged past us, pulled by their canine companions.

We continued under power lines, flushing a small rabbit and encountering another group of dogs and their owners. I confessed to some small recent victories, such as knitting a remaining sock and creating hats from a sweater my aunt had begun many years ago. We agreed that getting these nagging items off our plate provided a sense of freedom and exuberance that opened the way for new opportunities.

By 11:30, after stopping briefly for a snack, we reached the southern end of today’s trail. We reviewed the remaining section, which traveled along roads to Long Island Sound. We agreed that it would be a perfect January quest, in case snow or ice made woodland trails difficult. After discarding a tick wandering over my hand, we headed our individual ways until next year.

Fall Flowering Forsythia 002

Monday, Cherry and I had planned to hike the Menunkatuck Trail, but we were forced to postpone until next week. Now, here it is, Wednesday, and I’m still struggling to adjust to the change.

It would have been a lovely day for a hike. Sunny and balmy for this time of year. Perhaps it’s the unseasonable weather that has me flummoxed. Southern fronts keep coming, making it warmer outside than inside my house.

Mind you, I am thrilled to be warm and not shovel. It’s the longest Indian Summer I remember and it helps me pretend that a long, cold, lonely winter is not on its way. So, why am I out of joint?

I go for a walk and am startled by the sight of flowering forsythia along my neighbor’s hedge. Have they been lulled by the warmth into considering it spring? What will happen when we get the (inevitable) cold snap?

Or are they taking advantage of a window of opportunity? Ah, a chance, a special opening in the grays of November and dark of December to celebrate, to stretch and grow. To catch up with the last few remaining tasks that didn’t get done in September and get a jump-start on Spring.

Now that feels exciting, motivating, enthralling, inspiring. Forsythia flowers: let’s tidy up our loose ends for 2012 and get a head start on 2013. I’m with you.