On April 15, 2020

A ‘greening snow’ offers just enough to slide

By Merisa Sherman

My internal alarm clock woke up a little bit extra that morning and I could feel the change in the air even from inside our house. Instead of pulling the blankets back around me, I quietly snuck out of bed and down the stairs. The curtains were down in the main room, so I tiptoed to the one window to the world … and everything was covered in white! Well, not completely covered, but it was white enough to make this ski bum’s dreams come true! I looked longingly over at my ski collection, which has been reorganized at least twice in the past few weeks, and my eyes focused in on the one pair that would work perfectly for this dream situation: hooray for cross-country skis!

I dug out my Nordic boots and sat on the ground to lace and buckle them up, the one lace so worn that I worry it might give out any day. The plastic heel piece could probably shatter if I ever went for a real Nordic tour, but it would be perfect for today’s mini-adventure. I threw on a fleece, pulled my overalls over my pajamas and grabbed some worn out gardening gloves. The temperature was expected to rise today—and quickly—so I had to hurry. There wouldn’t be much time before the snow got mungy and melted and I’d be walking rather than sliding.

Unwinding the rubber band from the tips and tails of my skis, I opened my back door and breathed a big fresh breath of snowy air. There is just something different about cool winter air. I don’t know the exact science, but it’s the kind that makes my lungs feel clear and wonderful and makes my soul light and happy. And today was no different. I stood there, on my deck, with skis and poles in hand just looking out at the scene before me. The gardens were covered, but I could see the little purple crocuses just peeking out from the white snow and I giggled just a little bit.

Throwing my skis down onto the white, they sank right in the heaviness. I bit my lip —would my skis even slide? Had I gotten up too late to make this work? Would I need the WD40 wax? Clicking my toes into the bindings, I unconsciously held my breath as I went to take that first stride …. and I slid! Stride after stride! There was literally just enough snow to ski!

Past the raspberry and blueberry bushes and around the bonfire pit, the lawn tilted slightly downhill just enough to let gravity do some of the work as I slid.

Ahhhh, to feel the snow underneath my feet and my skis sliding along. Something that we take for granted so often, is now something so rare and precious. I couldn’t get enough. Around and around my house I went, making fresh tracks wherever I skied. Not to be greedy, but because the made tracks were already green and I needed to ski on snow. I went past my garden and back around the north side of the pine trees, where the deepest snow lay hidden in the shadows.

My arms were swinging, my legs sliding and my smile growing. There is something so magical about an April snowstorm. The old Vermont farmers call it a “greening snow,” one that slowly melts into the warm ground leaving behind greener grass than was there the day before. But me? I called this particular snow a truly treasured gift in a time of uncertainty, a blessing both to look at and ski on. A calming peacefulness that I desperately welcomed — even if it only lasted an hour.

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