An Icy Battlefield Hike

One of my goals for 2021 is to get outside more and do some hiking. I used to really enjoy hiking, but in the last few years, I’ve become something of a cave creature. It’s time to change that. Movement is good. A dose of sunlight every now and then is healthy, so I’ve been told.

At any rate, this weekend we met up with our friends Liz and Anthony for a low-key hike at Manassas National Battlefield Park. I’m a little embarrassed to say I’d never visited the battlefield in Manassas before Sunday. It was Liz’s choice. She and Anthony can always be counted on to join outdoor adventures and find the best hiking spots.

Here we are, back in 2016 in Alaska, after rowing out to the Mendenhall Glacier.

It’s good to have outdoor friends, I think.

Since Graham and I are pretty out of shape, we opted for an easy hike on the First Manassas Trail. Or, it would have been easy. See, we didn’t anticipate that the trail would be an ice rink.

We didn’t bring our trekking poles or our ice cleats. But with some caution and some borrowed gear from our friends, we did pretty okay.

Over the course of the five-mile loop, there are lots of historic sites and markers.

It’s a pretty good combination of field and forest, with a river and some wetlands.

It’s a really lovely trail, honestly.

And there aren’t any super steep hills. Until the very end, anyway.

I confess that by the last mile, I was ready to be done. My hips were killing me and my knees were pretty sore, but I made it to the end. Fast forward to today, and I’m hobbling around the house and muttering “ow” every third word. But, I have no regrets.

And there are more hikes in my future.

Annie the Snow Dog

She loves the snow as much as I do.

Annie is an almost eleven-year-old Australian Shepherd. She’s been with us since she was just a little puppy.

Though I would not recommend an Aussie to an inexperienced dog owner, watching her experience the world is one of the great pleasures of my life. She’s smart, spunky, friendly, curious, quick to learn, and easily the most energetic of all of us. She loves Graham best, and she’s happiest when they go for walks on the path along the mill race.

It snowed Sunday morning, and while I sat by the fire with a cup of coffee and a book, Graham took Annie out for some playtime and a snow day stroll.

It snowed almost as much in six hours as it did over the course of two days last week, and it was just beautiful.

I’m glad Graham got some good pictures before it melted. Which it did, by Sunday evening. But as always, I enjoyed it while it was here to enjoy. And Annie did, too.

It looks like we’ve got more winter weather to look forward to this week, though there’s apparently a chance for some significant ice, so, we’ll see. I was worried, back in the beginning of December, that we’d see a winter with barely any snow. How lovely to be wrong.

Found Friday #19: 2021’s First Snow

And it was a good one! It snowed for almost two days. I’m very pleased.

I don’t remember exactly why or when I decided to love winter best. I suspect I was just born that way. I love a winter landscape. I love the feel of cold air. I love how the world looks covered in a blanket of snow.

This time, I didn’t even mind that we got just a tiny bit of ice.

And I was surprised to find that the mill race had frozen over.

The world just feels a little more quiet, a little more slow, and a little more bright when it snows.

We’re expecting more wintry weather over the weekend, and I’m ready. I’ve got hot cocoa in the cabinet, cider and wine in the fridge, firewood by the hearth, and a list of books I’ve been meaning to read.

I feel like spring is just around the corner, but it’s not here yet. To everything there is a season, and this is the season for snow.

Expecting Ice

Well, here we are again, expecting winter weather – not just snow, also ice. Hopefully not as much as last time, but we’ll see.

We are supposed to get a couple of inches of snow, so I’m excited for that, at least.

I’ll be recording a podcast episode this afternoon, so I hope I get to watch it snow while I chat with my friend and we create something good. That would be nice. But again, we’ll see. (And if you want to listen to the podcast, here’s a link to it on Spotify: Better Friendships on Spotify.)

Anyway, here are a couple of things I wrote thinking about the incoming storm.

While lying in bed last night, unable to sleep, anxious about the weather:

We’re expecting ice again today.

Please just make it go away.

Not a winter wonderland,

not fun, like playing in the sand.

Just slick and heavy and dangerous.

I really hope it misses us.

And something a little more thoughtful, after my first cup of coffee:

A beautiful danger

makes slow and steady progress –

tree limbs press down and strain

against the weight of it,

as if the whole world could break.

This glistening villain,

freezing fingers and frigid breath,

holds a glinting blade behind its back

and betrays all who love the cold.

I love winter, but these ice storms are killing me. I’m still holding out hope that before the end of the season, we’ll see some snow. Fingers crossed!

Found Friday #16: A Very 2020 First Snow

I don’t think anyone expected a winter storm to hit Virginia in December. It’s certainly not an impossibility in any given year, but we normally have to wait a little longer into the season to see any real wintry weather.

It’s been a year full of surprises, hasn’t it?

Wednesday started off snowy, and it was so lovely. My husband got a fire going – the first of the cold season.

It snowed until about 3:00 p.m. – big flakes and small flakes, heavy showers and light. It was beautiful. Really, really wonderful. I’d say we got about four inches.

I love snow. You know what I don’t love?

Ice.

You see it, right? See, after about 3:00 p.m., the weather turned, and my quiet, gentle snow showers turned into evil, spiky little ice crystals. And they worked fast. Like, scary ice storm kind of fast.

The thing about ice – one of many reasons that I don’t like it – is that it’s heavy. And when you live in the country, on a property with lots of trees, heavy ice can be a real danger.

Case in point: We had to call the fire department because the limbs of our birch tree were so laden with ice that they ended up resting on the power lines, and started to spark and flame up, and kept at it all night. It was terrifying, and we’re expecting a visit from the power company to do some serious trimming.

So, I spent an anxious evening and a largely sleepless night worrying about a fire near the power lines, and listening to ice ping against the windows and the metal roof.

But I have to say, it sure did look beautiful by the morning. Almost pretty enough to forget how much I hate ice.

I mean, come on, it doesn’t get more Christmas-y than red berries in the ice and snow.

And the willow looked like something out of a fairy tale.

This wasn’t the first snow I was expecting. But this is 2020, so this was the first snow that I got. We’ll see what else this winter has in store for us. I, for one, am hoping for NO MORE ICE. But always for snow.