Sunday, December 12

First Snow

Winter's first snow is always a thing of excitement for me.  Like the sight of the first Robin or the taste of my first apple, I feel as though it serves to mark the season.  This past week the flurries and flakes flew in the Finger Lakes region, blanketing the ground with a dusting some places and up to a few feet in others. 
After a few weeks back in Wisconsin for an extended Thanksgiving visit with family and friends, I returned to Ithaca last weekend.  With flurries in the air this past week, I also returned to the orchard to help with some fencing work.  
Slowly, over the past several years, the orchard has been replacing the archaic chain-link fence that has surrounded the Lansing orchard since before the first trees were planted.  November and December are usually the only months slow enough at the orchard to allow for time to build the fence and that is only if there is not too much snow on the ground to prevent the tractors to from getting around the orchard.
So this week, with highs only in the mid-twenties, I dug out my long underwear and fleece-line boots and headed out to the fence line.
The trees in the orchard are almost all bare.  Here and there a few leaves still cling, mostly on the later varieties like the Ida Red and Gold Rush.  The trees left naked, dozing off for their winter sleep, appear so much smaller than they did in their full regalia.  Those that seemed to tower above you in October now have a more modest reach towards the sky.  The fallen, half rotten apples still show their rosy cheeks through the dusting of snow upon the ground.  The apples missed by the picking crew, those camouflaged by the leaves, now hang like forgotten ornaments on the tree.  The Golden Delicious, which were so well hidden a few months ago now stand out in stark contrast to the dark branches and snow the flies through the air and blankets the ground.
Building fence is not something that can be rushed.  Stretching three hundred and thirty feet of ten-foot tall wire mesh, requires close attention to detail in order to maintain proper tension and work out any kinks that form as the fence conforms to the contours of the land.  The key is finding ways to keep warm, moving as much a possible.  Taking breaks for a cup of tea or hot chocolate never hurts either.

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