I have always had a romantic notion of winter in Connecticut after being raised watching movies like Christmas in Connecticut, Holiday Inn and White Christmas. There were horse-drawn sleigh rides, beautiful inns with huge fireplaces, hot toddies, snow-covered barns, bells, singing and plenty of picturesque magic.
While I’m here in West Springfield rehearsing and performing in a play I thought I would take some jaunts into neighboring towns and report my findings. Today I drove about 20 minutes south into Connecticut in search of a hike in that idyllic, movie-set countryside.
My first stop was at the Lewis Bird Sanctuary in Sheffield, CT. The landscape was covered in a fresh coat of snow and freezing rain so it glittered and shined like a huge diamond. Unfortunately the snow made parking impossible at the sanctuary, plus it was closed for the winter. Sigh.
Next up was the Windsor Locks Canal Trail. This time I was able to park and strapped on my yaktrax. I crunched my way to the path only to be met with yet another locked gate. What’s with the trails here? We don’t close everything in the winter in the Berkshires. The signs said something about not disturbing the eagles nesting. I wandered around beside the river as far as the paths would let me, rehearsed my lines in the brisk sunshine and then back to the car in search of food.
It was the middle of the afternoon and I had passed a restaurant called the Three Figs in Sheffield, so I went back there to see if it was open. Amazingly it was, and as I sat at the bar eating my beet salad, the waitress recommended a Rails-to-Trail path near Granby, CT.
So after lunch that’s where I went. Strapped into boots and yaktrax yet again, it was just what I had hoped for. Yay, for the recommendations of locals! Covered in a layer of ice, you could skate if you had the blades and a Zamboni, but happily there wasn’t a soul for miles.
Every time I go walking I am stunned with the beauty of the world. As soon as I get away from the cities, cars, buildings and man-made stuff and see the sky changing color and trees with multi-colored bark standing in the drifting snow making shadows from the setting sun, I am confounded. The time of day changes everything. All is aglow in the sunset, today the pink is just beautiful and god is alive in the world. Out here I feel her/him.
“These blessed mountains are so compactly filled with God’s beauty, no petty personal hope or experience has room to be…the whole body seems to feel beauty when exposed to it as it feels the campfire or sunshine, entering not by the eyes alone, but equally through all one’s flesh like radiant heat, making a passionate ecstatic pleasure-glow not explainable. One’s body then seems homogeneous throughout, sound as a crystal.” (John Muir)
Yep, John describes it much better than I could. My flesh was “entered by nature’s radiant heat” leaving a pleasure-glow that is not explainable. My happiness is exploring, I am left as sound as a crystal bowl in one of those beautiful Connecticut Inns.