Thursday, March 17th--Celtic Appreciation Day*--was the first of a four-day preview/reminder of Spring here on the tundra. Clear blue skies, bright sunshine, and temperatures at least 10 degrees above freezing. I had recovered sufficiently to be allowed to venture out into the great white realms of Nature.
I am not fond of snowmobiles. I understand that for many people here behind the backwoods they are necessary for getting around and provide an outlet for relieving cabin fever. You can only put together so many 5000 piece jelly bean jigsaw puzzles before you go polar. My dislike of these snow tanks derives from the noise they make. At all hours. I referred to them earlier as Jihadist bees bent on the destruction of serenity. They also remind me of a buzz saw trying to cut through a pine knot or the bellowing of a constipated moose in intestinal distress. That being said, and I hope it was illuminating to my Southern Gentle Readers, there is one thing I appreciate about snow mobiles. They leave marvelous trails in their wake. Put a well-fed rider or two in four or five layers of thermal clothing atop 500 pounds of machinery and the snow beneath them is compressed into a firmly packed pathway across and into places one would rarely have the opportunity to wander.
My cross country skis are always waxed this time of year so I can check the sap buckets. Having waited patiently for the mercury to climb to my allowed venturing-out limit, I cast off my peacock cloak of brightly coloured daydreams. I grabbed the pet-carrier that looks like a mesh duffel bag, stuffed Jezebel the Russian Blue fur-child of my heart into it and strapped on the skis. Cat-filled carrier slung over my shoulder, we set off. Once clear of the immediate area around the house I found trails going in every direction. Across acres of hay fields, over frozen streams, and into great walls of trees. It felt as though I was standing at the hub of a wagon wheel with spokes of opportunity enticing me from all sides. Every now and then I would come across a place where the snow had melted and there was honest-to-goodness terra firma exposed. I would set the carrier down and let Jezebel out to sniff and scratch the musky wetness. She would be the one to reassure the other three at home that all was not lost and that the earth was still out there somewhere beneath their feet.
After several hours and miles of exploration we returned to warm fireside, hot soup, and comfy chairs. I was exhausted and exhilarated all at the same time. So, I grudgingly express my appreciation to those intrepid snow jockeys. I only hope they get as much out of their mechanical meanderings as I did out on my wooden magic carpet runners.
Wandering into the Maine woods is a risky enterprise at any time of year. But, following a snowmobile trail guarantees that at some point you will end up in someone's back yard or driveway. Dehydration isn't a concern when there are a million acres of snow around you. Wildlife is really the only threat one needs to be mindful of. A lone articulate human and an indulged feline are very tempting to the carnivorous denizens of the forest. I came across the tracks of many such inhabitants who were using the trails for transportation as well. I never saw them but I was sure they were seeing me. With just the ski poles for defense it would have looked like a really bad Marlin Perkins samurai movie.
*--Lest I forget, my Gentle Readers of longer standing will recall my attitude and sentiments regarding the Welsh-born so-called patron saint of Ireland. I utterly refuse to acknowledge the feast day of someone who inflicted such an insidious religious plague on the perfectly good culture of Hibernia.
Mother Nature, being the teasing, seductive vixen she is, drew the shades down on our little Spring preview. Heavy white shades of fluffy wetness. It hangs from the eaves like Battenburg lace set with crystals when the sun peeks through her veil. Time to grab the shovel and redecorate the driveway.