On Wednesday, I took my dog, Liam, for a walk in the woods. The day was mild, and in my imagination, I caught a faint whiff of sap being boiled into maple syrup. I am always eager for maple syrup season to begin. First of all, I love all things maple, including candy, butter, sugar, donuts, you name it. Second, when it’s maple syrup time, it means that spring is not far away, and despite the mud and the black flies, spring is most welcome in Maine after many months of dark and cold.
The woods in winter are stark and quiet, yet they have their own beauty. Purple shadows slant across the snow between the trees, and the muted colors—dark green, brown, and white—have a pleasing austerity. It’s as though nature has put away her palette and paints and is giving herself a good rest before taking them out again for the exuberance of spring, where the riot of colors—green, yellow, pink—bedazzle the senses.
Liam ranged ahead and then behind me. He seldom stayed by my side. On the snow, he found many interesting things to sniff, and at one point, he found something so enticing that he rolled and rolled and rolled in it. He must have picked up an odor—fortunately I couldn’t smell it—because my cat Sherlock certainly gave him the once over when we returned.
As I walked in the woods, I thought of my son-in-law Mike’s 30th birthday party on Sunday, and what a curious sensation I had while I was there. As Mike blew out the candles on his cake, it was as though I were my mother, instead of myself, watching him. Now, my mother has been dead for nearly 5 years, and I think of her often. But this was different. It really did seem as though I were her, a bookend, if you will, to E.B. White’s lovely essay, “Once More to the Lake,” when he identified so strongly with his son that he could actually feel what his son was feeling.
I suppose, in a way, it’s not surprising. My husband and I are now the older generation, and as such we are no longer the center of the family, busy juggling career, children, and home. Quite rightly, Shannon, Mike, and our other daughter Dee now hold that center position as we move to the outer edges, watching them deal with the joys and challenges that life brings. In a way, it’s a little sad, but it is also fitting. One thing ends, and another begins.
As I was having these deep thoughts and watching the dog and snapping pictures of the winter woods, my left leg suddenly sunk to its knee in the thawing snow, and it tipped me enough off-balance so that I fell. Fortunately, I was not hurt, and because I am 65 pounds lighter than I once was, getting up was not a problem.
So onward we went. Unless we have another deep freeze, I probably won’t walk in the woods again until the snow is nearly gone. Nobody likes falling, and the older you get, the less you like it. (My husband can certainly attest to this.)
We made it home without further incident, and after tea and some cozy time on the couch reading the New Yorker, I made corn bread and a shrimp, broccoli, garlic and zucchini stir-fry with soy sauce and sesame oil. On top of the stir-fry were ground peanuts and a splash of a ginger marinade.
A very good way to end the day.
Here are some pictures from the walk: