Winter has always been my favorite season, so I was delighted when snow fell on Saturday just in time to welcome in the New Year. Admittedly, it wasn’t much of a snowfall, but enough to brighten the dead brown grass on fields and bejewel the trees for an hour or two that morning. It was wet snow, which meant soon there was ice underfoot, but fearing that with climate change there might not be another snowfall this winter, I went walking in it all the same.
I took my usual, unadventurous route through the trees behind my house on Tiasquam Road in West Tisbury. The road crosses the Tiasquam River (Shirley Mayhew properly calls it a creek because it is so small). There, early in the morning, deer are often seen. I was too late for them, but their hoofprints led me into the woods. It was precarious walking indeed as I descended a rocky slope, but I have grown quite fond of a mini-boulder there that you must go over to reach the bridge over the Glimmerglass Pond waterfall. The pond’s proper name, Shirley tells me, is Jerry’s Pond, named for a Jerry Mayhew who once owned it. But Glimmerglass is far more inviting, and on Saturday it was iced over and gleaming like glass. Sometimes there are ducks or geese to see there, but with the water frozen, there was no sign of any. Songbirds were welcoming the morning, if not the snow and ice, in the trees.
I made my way past dark green wild hollies studded with red berries in a field beyond the pond. Against the snow, it was easy to see why they have become such a symbol of Christmas — bright and alive — in midwinter and showing off their green and red. The deer tracks crossed a field that leads to Middle Road and I followed them for awhile, but already the field snow was topped with ice. The cleats on my boots had fallen off and it seemed wise to make my way back home along Music street, which had been cleared of snow and ice.
Later in the day, I crunched happily through the ice-topped snow (the ice had begun to melt by then so the walking was less precarious) along the Mill Pond, past the Allen M. Look memorial bench. There was open water there and two swans and many mallards were happily swimming, but they followed me back toward the road — thinking I might feed them, I suppose, and climbed onto the ice that was there.
On Wednesday, I walked the Middle Road to Chilmark, admiring the elephant-gray stone walls that stood out so grandly as they rise and fall against the snow. At Wendy Gimbel’s, the oxen were out, quite oblivious of the winter elements.
I hope there will be better snowfalls before winter ends in this new year, but if there aren’t, I have at least had a touch of snow on Vineyard fields and woods and I am grateful.