December brings with it enough snow that even we, accustomed to life in the snowbelt, find little else to talk about. A friend grows more impressed when he realizes the nine showing on the snow gauge is the second in its 4-foot measure. What does one do with almost two feet of snow?
One stays indoors and admires (or at least tries not to mind) the seemingly endless expanse of white. The lake is covered as deeply as the cornfields lying just beyond.
I miss the lake. Better - and more accurate, I miss the water beneath. Like so much of life, the water is hardly noticed, much less missed, till it is there no longer. Some dry summers rob me of my view of all but acres of mud. Now, however, it is the cold itself which has stopped the wavelets in their tracks.
I watched the encroaching ice with admiration if not delight. How, I wonder, does the beaver feel when his ceiling closes over him, that same beaver so intent on circling repeatedly and slapping his approval as the tree on the island is decorated with the multicolor lights I enjoy as Christmas approaches. Where is that beaver now?
And how lovely, absolutely gorgeous, those evenings are - were - when the calm water reflects both the lights of the tree and the cascade of white lights which hang from the gazebo's roof. To see the entire scene repeated upside down is like peeking at a magical birthday cake.
Gone. All gone now. As of course are all those who counted on the open water as a convenient resting site whether they'd traveled a mile or a thousand. I remark (and mark) the Canada geese, mallards, teal and mergansers as they pass through. The only birds to be seen now are those at the feeders - and their appetites never diminish.
At this time of the season the water is just beginning to freeze and the temperatures hover near the melting point so the water's surface quickly changes (with just the smallest bit of encouragement) from a blaze of white to swirls of dark within the lighter shades, designs beyond imagination that continuously vary. I never fail to glimpse what lies just beyond the windows as I pass by.
But it is the moving water that I miss, indeed an added dimension for it again is seldom the same. Winds may sweep from any direction or playfully produce wonderfully dancing ripples or even - on some occasions - quite dramatic waves for a body so small.
The water, when in its mirror condition, is also a tattletale on the nature in its midst. I can't count the times my binoculars have searched and discovered a hawk or sometimes a heron, the bane of the retriever, or a crow or two simply because I have seen their dark reflected and known at once I was seeing more than just the tree.
Winter, for all its glory, might still be just a little bit better if it didn't rob me of quite so many light hours and then take away my magic reflections as well.
Susan Crossett is a Cassadaga resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org