November 11th, and the season's first snow is falling in Woodstock.
It seems early this year, but I suppose that is just a function of my age and the general acceleration of time that occurs with each year that passes.
Wasn’t I happily gathering seed in my garden just yesterday? Well, yes, I was!
Looking out the window, I see the Arrowwood viburnum bushes still holding their golden and deep red leaves, but the hazelnuts are nearly bare already.
The bur oaks have lost their leaves, but the white oaks are holding onto theirs as they do some years. (They will drop them in the spring when the leaf buds begin to open, but decided to keep them this winter – just in case.)
While most of the native perennials are now dried and brown, many of the asters and goldenrods are still green. And didn’t I see a purple bloom on a New England aster last week?
The first snow is somehow magical and sobering. For me, it is a reminder of my youth – making snow angels and building snowmen during snow days when school was closed. But it is also a glimpse of things to come as we adults prepare for the cold, snow and ice that we know will arrive over the next few months.
More than anything, however, the first snow is a time for me to stop and reflect. A time to remind myself to slow down. A time to remember to appreciate each season and the beauty it has to offer. A time to read a good book while drinking a hot cider with a warm cat on my lap.
There is a bur oak at Woodstock’s Hennen Conservation Area that has come to be called “Granny” oak, in recognition of multiple generations of her progeny that are found all around her. At 49 inches in diameter, she is over 300 years old (born circa 1700).
Take a short ride to visit the Hennen Park on Dean Street, nearly three miles south of Route 14, hike back past the pond, through the woods, across the Eagle Scout-constructed bridge, take a left, and follow the trail until you reach Granny.
She sits on the fence line between the park and a tree nursery to the north. This accident of birth location proved to be quite lucky for Granny, as she was spared the ax when most of the trees around her were cleared for farming in the 1800s.