It’s not often that you step out the door and go sliding off your front deck like a drunken iceskater, knees bent, crouched like a snowboarder with no board, arms conducting an invisible orchestra. Last night was one of those times. The dog leapt through the open door ahead of me and comically slid around but quickly regained his grip. I went back inside, found some paper bags and laid them out in front of me one after the other as I shuffled along in the dark with my flashlight to the woodpile, then I remembered: my crampons. Hillsound send me some crampons to try a few years ago and I dug them out and put them over my rubber boots, because it was raining after all. I mean, icy rain, but still rain. Last night’s events were cancelled and every time the plough truck went by I watched carefully in case the truck careened off the mountain. Wind thrashed hail at the sides of the house and frosted the car.
Houses and sheds this morning were laced with long icy fingers that are now melting. They slide off the roof and clatter on the floor as the morning warms up. Cars are stuck fast in slick driveways. Every tiny blade of grass, every leaf, branch and needle was bathed in an icy mantle like the landscape is now a frozen museum under glass, curated by Mother Nature: a natural wonder, a gift to the photographer. This is Catskills life in winter. As Annie Proulx wrote in The Shipping News, “by January it had always been this cold”. You need your winter tools, like the miraculous crampons: bags of salt or sand; extra bottles of anti-freeze; rubber mats; huge shovels like ploughs; thick, sturdy gloves; a huge wood pile; lip balm.
The temperature’s not too bad this morning: a balmy 34F at 9am. No driving wind, no creaking forest, but a calm arctic landscape, mountains shrouded in fog like ghosts in the rising sun.