Winter is on it's way

It is early Saturday morning, Dec. 13 and the thermometer outside my window reads 19 degrees below. In the dawn's dim light, frozen crystals suspended in the crisp, morning air appear as diamond dust.

A carpet of fresh powder highlight the first shafts of sunlight as they inch down the peaks and sneak across the landscape. The warmth offered by these early rays is strictly emotional, as the limited solar heat can't compete with the bone chilling cold of this Adirondack morn.

"Saranac Lake," proclaims the national news, "was the coldest spot in the nation last evening." The declaration, came nearly two week's before winter is officially set to arrive, on Dec. 22. The recent cold snap offers a harbinger of what's yet to come.

In the side yard, the tracks of a red fox loping across the landscape offer evidence of the only creature stirring. No other tracks, not even a mouse.

The usual flock of black capped chickadees, always the first visitors to the bird feeder, are slow to arrive this morning. The always mischievous red squirrels are likewise absent, evidently there is little need for the critters to venture out in such weather.

As the sun climbs higher on the horizon, the breaking day beckons me to shake off the morning's shiver and embrace the season whether skiing, skating or grouse hunting. Winter is already beginning to take hold. Ice has already set up on the ponds and snow underfoot squeaks like styrofoam. The brook in the backyard is frozen over solid and snowmobiles race along the railroad corridor. Ice fishermen were on Owl Pond.

I pour another cup of hot coffee and check the thermometer again. The mercury remains well below the zero mark, in the double digit range.

The urge to go outside quickly subsides. It's too early in the day, too early in the season. I'm certain that more reasonable opportunities will be available when the mercury is legible north of the zero digit. In the confines of my warm office, with a shiver of recognition, I begin this week's column.

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