Winter

There is still snow on the ground, left over from the ten inches we received at Christmas. My snow experience was minimal before moving here so I am surprised to see it melting unevenly, turning what was a smooth and crystalline front lawn into a collection of humps and bumps and green-brown holes. It's the same in the forest fields we pass on our daily walk. The snow lies deep in places but not evenly, and the small brown patches that surround each sage or pine or juniper grow broader by the day.

Despite the cold we've managed to walk most days, though we wait for it to warm to at least 25F before setting out. I find, somewhat to my surprise, that I like this dry, cold air and the winter views. Yesterday a herd of eight or ten deer crossed our path and shortly after we heard, then saw, a family of fat quail scrabbling through the underbrush.

The cycle of daily melt and nightly freeze leaves crusty ice edges along the remaining snow, edges that I find irresistible—so much so that I'm compelled to stop frequently and give them a good kick. Sometimes I jump on them. It's amazingly satisfying to see the ice crack into tiny pieces, and I wonder if I'm entering my second childhood. If so, Ray has decided to come along.

He used to stop and wait (and laugh) while I paused to kick and stab the ice with my heel, but now he sometimes joins me—maybe in self defense. Today we spent several long minutes hopping around on a particularly delicious piece of ice, while traffic flowed past. I thought we must look like toddlers stomping in puddles, but it didn't matter. We were having fun.

The sun is still low in the south as we walk and the tall pines cast long dark shadows across the fields. The three volcanos rise snow-covered from the flat plain, looking like giant marshmallows against the pale blue sky. There is silence here and a respite, if we choose to take it, from the worries of the world. It is a good way to spend a winter.