Many Shades of Snow

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Before we leave Chicken Ridge for the Gastineau Meadows trail, I’m forced to destroy art: the bas-relief baroque frost feathers that obscure the rear window of our Subaru. From inside the car Aki watches the blade of our scraper plough through frost as thick as Victorian wallpaper. In seconds it is gone.

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We see so many manifestations of frozen water during our visit to the meadows that I wonder why the English language has so few words to describe it’s many states. There’s the snow that still covers most of the meadow. Corse from repeated freezes and thaws, it can hold even my weight until the day’s sun softens away its crust. Thin sheets of opaque ice cover the ponds with abstract etchings that could have been by Joan Miro. On the main trail, many boots have pounded the snow covering into dense and smooth ice the color of milk. Aki and I avoid sections where a thin sheet of water the color of Irish breakfast tea has seeped over the trail ice.

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Air bubbles are still trapped in meadow ponds where last summer we watched water striders dimple the water. Beneath the ice their progeny wait with the water lilies for spring. Aki and I follow the trail of an adult deer that took advantage of the crusty snow last night. While I stop to photograph Mr. Roberts, the little dog starts racing up and down a solid stretch of snow, ears flapping. Often all four of her feet leave the ground at the same time like she is trying to fly. The little poodle-mix does love snow.

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