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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain


The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet

"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.


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Last night we got quite a dumping of snow. There was about a foot (30 cm) piled up on the patio chairs this morning, although it's impossible to tell what of that was new and what was old--but most of it was new. The snow was also powder, that elusive substance so beloved by skiers and snowboarders.

The result of this was that schools were closed! Bobby and I both anticipated a delay, but an all-out closure?? The outcome of this: I got to sleep in, Bobby got a powder day, and I went snowshoeing for the first time this year.

I did not post my photo-a-day yesterday because I had an immensely productive day, which tend to look boring from the outside. I did not leave the house or take off my pajamas all day, most of which was spent in front of the computer. I got a bunch of fannish stuff done and worked through about half of a Drupal 8 course that I found on YouTube. (My Drupal textbook finally foiled me. It is for Drupal 7, so I was wasting so much time trying to find modules that were integrated into the core Drupal 8 software or that haven't been completed for Drupal 8 yet. I also didn't like that the book dived right into projects, thus presenting topics rather willy-nilly, to use the technical term for it. I like to see the big picture of how things are organized first; all that happens when I dive into things at random is that I can never find it again or figure out what exactly I did back when. I have a very taxonomic brain that likes a place for everything and everything in its place and to see how things relate and connect.) None of that stuff exactly provides inspiration for any photos that I think anyone wants to see. (Me in my pajamas staring zombie-like at a Drupal tutorial on YouTube?)

Anyway, I hope to make up for yesterday's lack of photo by posting lots from my snowshoeing jaunt today. It felt good to get my legs under me again. The Nordic Center wasn't really open but they told Bobby over the phone that they didn't care if I went out as long as I didn't mind if the trails weren't groomed. As it was, one of the staff showed me a brand-new not-even-on-the-map-yet trail that he isn't even finished blazing yet, so I did that one. It took about an hour--not a long walk at all given some of my past outings--but with a foot of fresh powder and ungroomed terrain, it was quite a workout!

First of all, Bobby surprised me with new snowshoes, which he got dirt cheap at the pro sale at Jay Peak last weekend.

(We have been cracking up over this: For employment purposes, Bobby is now considered a professional athlete! But, as I reasoned, he does get paid to render a service particular to his skill with the sport of snowboarding. Even as a ski patroller, his main reason for existence was less his skills as a rider and more his specialized training in outdoor emergency care.)

My new shoes.

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I'm pretty sure I put them on the wrong feet, but hey, they got me through all that fresh powder.

The American beech holds its papery brown leaves through the winter. These trees were scattered along the trail and made for some dramatic scenery: the parchment-pale leaves against the stark black and white scenery. As is often the case, photography does not do them justice (especially when your equipment consists of a cell phone camera being carried in a humid pocket!)

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The trail was pretty densely wooded but every now and then a mountain would peek through the trees. I don't know the name of the first mountain; the second is, of course, Jay Mountain.

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About halfway along, a little bit of blue sky briefly appeared. Then it started snowing again.

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The trail winded along the river, which was mostly frozen, although I could still hear the water chuckling under the ice. My phone does not zoom well at all--the only thing I miss about my iPhone--so you have to really look to see the tiny waterfall here. It sounded so merry as I trudged through the snow.

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There was a variety of tree species through this section of the woods, and they often had interesting features, especially bark. The bark peeling off of the birch trees was of marvelous texture and color.

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Close-up of a knot on a conifer tree.

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One of the things I love about being in nature is that it is so life-affirming. It is the way of nature for life to take hold, even under the most impossible of circumstances. I find this really inspiring and comforting. I loved how, even at the outset of what promises to be a cold, snowy winter, this little sprout is nonetheless faring forth from a tree trimmed of its lower branches.

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At my return, the Nordic Center with Jay Peak in the background. (Click for full-size on LJ.)

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And looking along the mountains that lead up to Jay Peak. I love how they look rumpled and wonder what primordial cataclysm shaped them like this.

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It was relatively warm today (in the mid-20s F! about -4C!) compared to what it's been. When Bobby woke up for his instructor's course yesterday morning, it as 1F/-17C. I know from experience that snowshoeing in even very cold weather--when I went in Breckenridge the one day, it was 10F/-12C--you do not stay cold for long. I was hot and sweaty after my walk today. Back at the lodge, I was glad to divest myself of my coat and dig out the half-bottle of iced tea that I'd kept from lunch. (Then I only drank half anyway to keep part of it for Bobby. I spared the other people in the lodge the divestment of my snowpants and myself in just my leggings.)

Bobby was still snowboarding, so I settled down with my Kindle.

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I am reading Moby Dick at the moment. I have to admit that, former vegetarian and animal rights activist that I am, it is really hard to read some of the whale-killing scenes. And I am no shrinking violet when it comes to violence in stories--just wait till Tamlin is ready to be read!--but animals and children occupy a special category for me where violence and cruelty become difficult to read, in a large part because I'm terribly cognizant of how both of these especially defenseless categories of sentient beings are so often cruelly and unjustly treated.

I downloaded the book years ago because Bobby wanted us to read it together. It's good that we did not; I don't think he'd like it. It'd be too slow for him, I think. I enjoy the actual scenes of the story, but the discursions on naturalism and history of whaling I sometimes skim to get back to the story! (Kind of like the poetry in Tolkien! Ouch!)

Anyway, I'm 68% through according to my Kindle. I'm glad I finally picked it up, and it can occupy me for hours at a time, but I'm going to also be glad to pick up one of the lighter books that I checked out of the library on Saturday.

This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

  • I gotta run (am getting ready to go to downtown Brooklyn for a sci-fi/fantasy reading event)! Be back to finish reading later! But two snow days and it's not even Christmas yet! Yay!
    • The snowfall this year is apparently pretty epic for a December. People who have lived here all their lives are starting their sentences with "I can't remember when ..." Bobby, of course, is giddy--and the area really needs it after last winter's disastrous lack of snowfall and the financial scandals at Jay Peak and Burke.

      Hope you enjoy the reading!
  • (no subject) -
    • You have our sympathies on the ongoing warm weather! I do not miss that (or Bobby's constant complaining about it. :D) He's already wigging out because we'll be in Maryland for Christmas and the weatherpeople are predicting temps in the 60s.
  • Whoa. A foot of powder!? Clearly, it's coooooold in the NEK. We got about an inch or so of heavy wet stuff in Boston, which then melted as the high temps were in the 40s today. The photos from your snowshoeing excursion are beautiful.

    I picked up Moby Dick again a few years back as research for forthcoming chapters of The Elendilmir and, forgive the vague pun, was hooked. Melville was beyond my comprehension when I was a teenager (first read it then), but as an adult, I loved it...often LOL funny and I really enjoyed his excursions from the main story. I was inspired to take a field trip to New Bedford a couple of years ago or so to see the whaling museum and some of the locales that inspired Melville. You can still smell a faint whiff of whale oil at the docks in New Bedford; the wood is impregnated with it.
    • Jay Peak receives an insane amount of powder. It's considered a hidden gem among ski resorts since eastern resorts are better known for ice than powder! :D Bobby went riding in the backcountry with some fellow instructors over the weekend, hitting waist-deep powder stashes in places. But Jay Peak had received over four feet of snow before this weekend's dumping. I'm sure they're over five feet for the year so far by now.

      Our accumulation in Coventry was more modest, but yes, it was cold this weekend! Bobby woke up for his shift on Sunday morning to a temperature of 1F. It warmed up yesterday to just about freezing, but we'd had most of our snowfall by then. And it's generally colder--sometimes much colder--at Jay Peak.

      I really enjoyed his excursions from the main story.

      Some are better than others! I like any that describe the procedures of the work itself. I liked the one about the social structure of whale "schools" (complete with a schoolmaster!). I have to admit that I like less the more naturalism-focused ones and some I flat-out skim. I skimmed the one on whale phrenology and the one about the appearance of whales/whaling in art and story. I love naturalism but am not particularly interested in the history of it, and at this point, his "facts" about whales have mostly historical significance.

      But the story I'm enjoying muchly all around!
  • Those are lovely, Dawn! We're still waiting for our first sticking snow; we had a light flurry of the "look closely, there's flakes falling sporadically" type a few days ago.
    • Yes, it seems most of the country is "unnaturally warm" and we're "omg whut well below freezing."

      I actually prefer the latter at this time of year--and not only because Bobby complains less! :) If we must have cold, then let's at least have snow!
  • A day off, how wonderful! Thanks for taking us snowshoeing with you.

    It's funny that you have birch trees there, and we have them here as well (in such a hot, dry place). I love them.
    • You're welcome! :)

      We had them in Maryland too but they weren't nearly as common as they are here. They're everywhere here. They're stunning trees.
  • I love your pics, thank you so much for sharing them. :)

    A snow day sounds wonderful. But I have to admit I am curious as to how your school plans for snow days, and how they make them up later on (if needed, that is.)
    • As far as I can tell, we don't "bank" snow days here. We'll make them up at the end of the year. I'm not sure if there is a system in place for pardoning them in years when we use an excessive amount. I have a lot to learn, clearly. :)

      Maryland school districts generally budgeted a few extra days in the calendar for snow days. If they didn't use them, they came off of the end of the year; extra days went onto the end of the year. (Occasionally they took away part of Spring Break, and one disastrous year when I was in 7th grade, they extended the school day by a half-hour at the beginning and end of the day. I really should read my contract to see what they're allowed to take and not here in Vermont, but my school calendar says simply that they'll be added to the end of the year, so I'm hoping our union has locked in our mid-year breaks so that they can't be touched.)
  • We want snowshoes too so we can hike some of the trails this winter. We also got a downpour of snow but the next day's temps around 35-40 helped to melt about half of it. I think we are in for some more later this week.

    Beautiful scenery though. ;)
    • Snowshoeing is super fun! I like it better than hiking (which I know you do a lot of) because I tend to overheat and sweat so much hiking in the warmer months. Snowshoeing is quite refreshing by comparison. :)

      I can't even remember the last time we were above freezing (we were close to freezing yesterday), and it's supposed to get insanely cold starting tomorrow. (And of course, I have outside recess duty!)
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