The picture to the left is of the neighborhood from behind the wheel (ignore the date, it was taken a week ago).
Below is my account of skiing...
It was a last minute decision. I’d almost decided not to go since no one else wanted to join me. But I couldn’t miss the opportunity and needed to take comp time. Throwing skis and poles into the back of the truck, donning boots and gaiters, a wool sweater and vest, and a fanny pack holding a bottle, extra gloves and a wind shell, I headed south of town to the nature center at the headwaters of Cedar Creek. By the time I get to the parking lot, it’s 30 minutes after sunrise and the air is still cold. I work some wax onto the skis, noticing that the edges have become a bit rusted. I’ll have to take care of that later. I debate putting on my shell, but know when I began to move, I’ll warm up. I quickly step into my skis and begin to stride across a prairie, heading for the hardwoods along the ridge overlooking the creek, picking up a few cockleburs along the way.
The wind bites my face, but I’m working hard enough that by the time I reach the forest, I’m a bit sweaty. I work my way up the hill, steep enough that my skis begin to slip and I break into a herringbone technique for the last fifty feet. There on the top of the ridge, I pick up the boundary trail, the center’s property line running the creek bank down to the opposite side. I make my way eastward, through old growth forest. At times the ridge drops and I quickly shoot downhill, only to have to herringbone again to get back up the next side. At one point, I surprise a large number of turkeys. Are they called a covey or a flock? After the ridge turns north, it drops into the marsh along the creek-bank, where the water out of several small lakes feed into the creek. The trail snakes through the swamp on ground barely higher than the frozen water. The fast flowing creek, in contrast to the still lake water, isn’t yet frozen and a flock of fifty or more duck takes to flight when I come along beside. Soon, I’m back climbing again, past an old milking barn, toward the snow-pack Cloverdale Road.
Crossing the road, I continue to climb, heading north by an old homestead, the house and barn still standing. Three dairy farms use to reside on the property now is set aside as a nature preserve. It must have been a hard life. The last glacier stripped off most of the good topsoil from this land, depositing to the south where it nourishes the fertile farms in north Indiana. From the appearance of the forest, most of the hills had been cut. The exception being a few along the south ridges near the creek and the lines of maples that highlight the former pastures and alfalfa fields. I sure the hills were used as pasture, put was probably contained poor feed and, especially in the spring when things are wet, were muddy from the hooves of cows. But that was another era, as most of the trees are now six to eight inches in diameter, indicating many decades of growth. The farmers struggled just to have some dairy products and maybe a little maple syrup from the trees that lined the fields to sell.
Coming to the north boundary, I pause and stick my skies into the snow, tucking the tops under my arms, as if a short-handled shovel. Its now calm; the sun is high about as high in the southern sky as it gets this time of the year. I’ve made four or five miles. I catch my breath, looking and listening. The faint roar of a distant jet climbing into the atmosphere fails to drown out a woodpecker digging into a nearby tree. A few other birds still hanging out around in winter sing. I notice the bark of the trees. The forest consists of mixed new growth, mostly maple but a few cherry and oak and an occasional cedar. Snow is perched on all branches. I take a drink of water, then continue on. At the northwest boundary point, the trail and property line turns south, across fields of alfalfa, back to Cloverdale Road and the parking lot where my truck awaits.