Greetings from Vermont

Photo: Greetings from Vermont

Wintry chores, indoors.

Ballet classes, reading glasses.

Ice skate, bread bake.

Lake run, too much fun.

Work-play, lazy day.

Valentines, canines.

Pot-au-feu, boyfriend, too.

Crossword puzzle, doggy muzzle.

Foot rubs, lots of snug-gles.

Heavy sighs, long goodbyes.

Greetings from Vermont.

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Rolling Around in the Snow, in the Buff

Yes, I really did this last night underneath a sky that was so incredibly dark and brilliant with stars and planets I am not sure my words can do it justice.  My small digital Canon PowerShot simply can’t capture what I saw, so I had to grab something that approximates the nighttime sky in rural Vermont.  And while this image still does not describe last night’s sky exactly it does give you some idea of how minuscule and inconsequential I felt looking skyward and seeing that.

Sunday evening my colleagues and I had a rare girls’ night together at the beautiful home of the one of us who is a famous former American Ballet Theatre ballerina and will not admit it.  Three ballet divas, a bottle of wine, yummy apetizers in front of a roaring library fireplace, and then…and then…we were invited into the hot tub, completely nekkid (which is how we say it in the South).  ONE of us objected to this plan—I will not say which one—but caved in when the OTHERS of us chided her for being too modest.  Peer pressure is a powerful thing.

Honestly, after skating four and a half miles with Handsome Chef Boyfriend on Friday, and then running five miles over difficult terrain and in occasionally strong headwinds with him on Saturday, some old running injuries were talking to me and I did not care one jot how nekkid I was, nor who saw me that way.  I just wanted those dang jets on my ageing ballerina joints.  The night sky was a bonus, and I can report that I also saw a shooting star; my colleagues sadly missed it.

After a relatively short time, and being chided by our famous ballerina hostess for continuing to talk shop—which was verboten—we started sweating.  Without any warning at all, she jumped out pretty effortlessly and began rolling around in the fresh snow, squealing all the while like a kid.  Then she dove back in.  The other two of us sat there, mouths agape.

Then she urged us to do the same.  After some careful reflection—and hearing her benign-sounding rationale, like, You can’t believe how good it feels, and, It will make you tingle all over, I decided to be brave; I am not one to walk away from a challenge.  So after I rolled around for about a nanosecond, I jumped right back into the water, which now felt COLD, and my skin a little like how I imagine self-immolation feels.  Doesn’t it feel great? she asked me.  When I mentioned I felt like I had spontaneously combusted, she waved that off impatiently and said, No, not that—just wait a second—you’ll feel it.

I did feel it, in fact.  After the water began to warm again, some mean little troll started poking needles into me.  Everywhere.  A day later I can still summon the sensation.  It certainly leaves a lasting impression, but I am thinking may be an acquired taste, possibly.  Give me a few points at least for trying it.

Once again inside we had a positively delightful dinner, more shop talk, lots more talk about all kinds of other things, and in general a jolly good time.  My ballet diva colleagues did not want to be photographed, silly girls, which is why the one picture I made of them is all blurry.  But Koko-the-Poodle was happy to pose for the camera.

Nice start to the work week.  Thanks, ladies.

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The lake has spoken.

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Handsome Chef Boyfriend and I skated around the lake again day before yesterday (no, that is not us in the photo–that woman does not have a death grip on her friend); this time we went for the entire circuit, about four and a half miles.  The wind was rough at times and on occasion the path all but disappeared because of blowing snow heralding the arrival of winter storm Nemo.  We were the only skaters besides a mother and her young daughter, who stopped intermittently to play in the snow.  (Oh, to be a child again and feel no cold.)

As before, I was chiefly focused on staying upright.  But I was far more confident and competent this time than a couple weeks ago.  HCB still tried to make me go much faster than I was comfortable going from time to time, I think mainly because—like most sixth-grade boys—he evidently enjoys hearing girls squeal.  QUEEEEEiiittttt!!!!  I am not in conTROLLLLLLLL!!!!

But aside from this wintry workout, my purpose in taking to the lake was also to demonstrate to HCB that the eerie sounds I had been hearing for a period of a week or so really existed and were coming from the lake itself (endless fodder for mockery from him about the lake monster with a taste for Southern girls).  But no, really.  Turns out frozen lakes do make noises, some of them spectacular and other-worldly.  And the noises are most likely to happen during periods of rapid changes in temperature.  (And of course HCB was aware of this but knows an easy target when he sees one.)

Several days earlier we had unseasonably warm weather here, with daytime temperatures climbing into the lower fifties.  I wondered what kind of effect that would have on the winter sports the lake supports.  After a couple of balmy days you could see waves on the lake’s surface; in fact, it did not look frozen at all anymore.

Shortly after this, when the temperatures began to plummet once more, the lake mounted quite a performance.  One very cold evening when I walked outside with Clarence, in the stillness of the night we heard a collision of two spectacular sounds:  the groaning lake, which I can only describe as somewhat like the sound a transformer makes when it blows, and the amazing and very LOUD sound of cracking ice.  This noise was in fact so spectacular that Clarence began a throaty growl that in no time escalated into full throttle ferocious barking.  I sure felt safe from the, er, frozen lake.

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After doing a little poking around I found a few examples of frozen lake sounds.  None of them is quite like what I hear on my lake, but a few come pretty close.  This recording by sound artist Andreas Bick is interesting and the “cracking” sound is similar to what I have heard.  The “laser gun” sounds that many others have described and that occur in this recording I have not heard here; what comes off the lake is much lower and more guttural.

So many Vermonters have suggested to me that the best way to weather the long winter is to get outside and enjoy it.  Because I am a runner, getting outside has never really been a problem for me.  But I can say they are correct about enjoying the outdoors in the winter.  It lifts the spirits and makes that warm cup of soup awaiting you in front of the fire oh-so-satisfying.

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Today there has been much grooming of the skating trail; I just grabbed the above photo of the plowman working on cleaning and widening it, which Clarence found enchanting.  Next weekend the resort on the lake’s south end hosts a three-day-long annual outdoor festival with races, sleigh rides, horse drawn wagon rides, snow shoe treks, ice fishing demonstrations, marshmallow roasts, and a culinary feast right on the skating trail.  The lake has spoken; it says, Bring on the Vermont winter.  My wobbly skating legs and I will be right there.