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First Snow Provides Food for Thought


Gregory J. Rummo

December 1, 2002

THANKSGIVING EVE STARTED the same as any other day of the year for me when I took the dog out for his morning walk.

The route is always the same: after walking to the end of our eighty-foot driveway, we turn east into the rising sun, walk past three houses then make a sharp right into the path leading to the bridge spanning the lower end of Lake Edenwold.

A huge bush hides the entrance to the path from the casual passer-by, especially in the spring when it is starting to leaf out and is covered with white flowers. This morning there are no white flowers and all of the leaves have been stripped from the branches by last week’s gale. Nevertheless, it still manages to hide the entrance somewhat for it is covered with something else—a white, glistening layer of fresh snow—the season’s first—and its weight bends the branches double.

The weathermen had threatened us here in the Northeast with a meteorological cataclysm the night before. Predicting up to six inches and warning that the commute to work would be a nightmare, they got it wrong—at least here in the metropolitan area where the streets are just wet. But enough snow fell overnight to blanket the trees in the forests and transform the bleak, late autumn landscape into a cheerful Currier and Ives Christmas card.

We turn on to the path and my boots crunch noisily into the layers of wet snow, dry leaves and wood chips, disturbing the soft stillness of the early morning. Chewy walks gingerly several steps behind me until the memories from a year ago finally flood back and he realizes it’s OK to walk on the cold snow covering the ground.

The path leads to a bridge spanning the lower end of the lake where a spectacular waterfall, fed by the late autumn runoff, hurls itself in a wild cascade over the top of a ten-foot dam.

And in the middle of this winter wonderland, the memories begin to pour in.

It was here along the shoreline that I walked on that day in July ten years ago for the first time with my family after stumbling on what was to become our future home. So new was the listing that the real estate agent who showed us around the neighborhood had no idea the house existed.

It was here several years later that I taught both of my sons how to catch bluegills on a fly-rod, kindling in them the desire to pursue more noble species such as the trout and the striped bass.

On this spot I trained Chewy to jump into the lake to retrieve a float, drop it at my feet and then sit patiently until the entire drill was repeated, flawlessly, again and again.

In warmer weather there are wildflowers scattered everywhere, but not now. They succumbed to the elements weeks ago. A few pokeweed are all that remain, their skeletons studded with purple berries, reserved for a lucky slate-colored junco or white-throated sparrow.

In late summer, the flowers' showy displays are magnets for all types of insects. One year they helped avoid a disaster of small proportions when my son came up several bugs short for his over-the-summer seventh-grade science project. The two of us ventured out together on a warm September afternoon. With collection vials in hand, we were able to find five more species he hadn’t found anywhere else, assuring him of an A grade.

We stop along the path for a moment or so to contemplate the beauty of this first snowfall. It is then that I am reminded of the words from Psalm 147, “He gives snow like wool.”

The chatter of a belted kingfisher swooping across the water into a nearby tree snaps me out of my trance and signals it’s time to head back.

As we turn to leave, several Canada geese mistake our intentions and begin swimming lazily toward us followed by a few mallards and the two fat white ducks that took up residence here after one of my neighbors released them three years ago.

They think I have food for them. But they should know better.

After countless walks along this path, the only food I bring is food for thought.

Gregory J. Rummo is a syndicated columnist. Read all of his columns on his
homepage, E-Mail Rummo at

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