Stifle that Bluebird

This morning I was awakened by birds singing. It’s usually a pleasant harbinger of spring. Sometimes I even let my half-awake mind go back to being a six-year-old, when I imagined the birds would fly in my bedroom window and dress me like they did Cinderella in the Disney movie.

Not today. Dammit, birds, I thought, go away!

Today, birds singing mean it’s going to be in the 40s. And that means our meager layer of snow is dissolving quickly. I’m not ready to let go. As much as I love grinding the knobby tires of my mountain bike through mucky trails, it’s still February and I want to ski.

Maybe I am reverting to being six years old, thinking I can rage against nature and bend it to my powerful will. It’s just that the skiing here, within a couple miles of my home, was so good for a while this winter that I’m clinging to that memory. For several weeks in December and January, we had a gorgeous base of snow and clear blue skies above. That all changed in late January with an overnight thaw and rain storm that washed my fun away. For nearly a month now there’s been precious little skiing. I’ve even started jogging again. Ugh.

When the conditions were good, there was nowhere better than Dover’s Caryl Park and Noanet Woodlands for cross country skiing. Think 17 miles of trails in the woods. No intersecting streets. And a connection (if you know where to find it) to Westwood’s less-traveled Hale Reservation.

Trails here are mostly unmarked. My rule of thumb is to go in to the left. There are wide trails on the right flank of the property, but most of them lead to  Noanet peak and a view of Boston — not the most enjoyable skiing, whether going up or down! I’ll save that trip for a family hike or trail running later when the snow’s just a memory.

Even when the parking lot at Caryl Park seems full, it’s unusual to bump into more than one or two people on the trails. At the same time, the 12-hour-a-day popularity of the spot often means that the main trails are packed down by walkers, making them fun for fast skiing. When skiing, I’d go in past the former iron works ponds/mill site and turn left to quiet, hilly trails. Thanks to unemployment and kids in school, I wasn’t worried about a time limit, so I acted accordingly, following my skiing muse deeper into the woods and breaking my own trails for the pleasure of seeing my ski tips slicing through the smooth blanket of white. Sometimes it felt like I climbed uphill for way too long, but the effort was always rewarded with utter stillness and peaceful skiing. I’d pass big ledges of granite and listen to brown oak leaves twitching in the breeze.

No birds were singing on those cold, clear days. It seemed winter would last forever and that was just fine with me.

ski tracks along the Charles River on Dover-Sherborn line

Today I have to get my mind around springlike skiing, which means a lot of brown grass sticking up. I have to find an open field that got a decent amount of snow last Tuesday. And I have to start thinking about moving the skis to the back of the garage so I can get my bike out without much trouble.


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