Monday, December 28, 2009


Mother Nature is toying with the weather over the holidays. A dusting of snow, rain, fog, sleet, cold winds, calm days, fluctuating temperatures. We arrived home yesterday to temperatures in the mid-40s. Most of the snow has melted or turned to ice.

Bella and I revisited what has become our regular walk on the Sweet Trail in town. The trail offers enough ups and downs and twists and turns to provide a good workout for both of us. The woods felt different today, compared to a week ago. Today I could smell the wood air, what the Japanese call shinrin-yoku. The smell of wet, decaying leaves permeated the woods. Droplets of moisture hung from every twig. A weak sun, shrouded by a thin layer of gray clouds, was at least higher in the sky.

A week ago we walked confidently on the frozen wetlands. Today, the thinning, gray ice looked ominous, and the wetland edges had thawed completely. Last week in the cold winter air and among snow covered trees, the woods were silent. As soon as we neared the wetland today, I heard the meltwater rushing from the pond down through the woods to the bigger wetland below.

It felt like a March day, when the vernal pools begin to thaw and you listen intently for the first wood frogs to "quack" from the still partly frozen pools. The woods have the same shinrin-yoku. Yet this is still December. Months of winter lie ahead. Cold temperatures are returning as soon as tonight; as low as zero degrees by Tuesday. Look for the blue moon on New Year's Eve -- the second full moon of the month, although Mother Nature may foil the viewing. Snow is predicted that night.

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