The red bricks of this abandoned one room school a few miles from my home stood in sharp contrast to the season’s first snowfall. Long since closed, this little red brick school once served as the incubator for future lawyers, farmers, housewives, teachers and business owners.
The outhouse on the right also played an important part in the school’s history. Right after World War II, the students gathered in the morning for class, but their usually prompt teacher wasn’t in the building. After several minutes, the oldest student, an eighth grader, went looking for the teacher, and found him sitting in the privy dead.
I always think of that story when I pass by the old Beechvale School. “Little red schoolhouse” is my Photo of the Week.
We awoke on the first Saturday of November to a skiff of snow on the roofs, grassy areas and glued to the trees. The driveway and the road in front of our house were just wet.
Since the temperature hovered right at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, I figured we probably had had more than the dusting that remained. Not one to quibble with the weather, I simply inhaled the beauty as a drab dawn broke.
My wife and I were ready to head for our cottage for a post-election weekend retreat with some friends. After the tiresome multimedia blasts of campaign negativity, we needed a quiet place, and the cottage was it.
Just a few minutes down the road, we caught up to the menacingly low clouds that were still spitting snow. During the 75-minute trip, we were amazed at just how spotty the snow was. We drove in and out of the white stuff several times.
In some places, the snow was two or three inches deep. In most, the ground was bare. The snow had fallen in various depths in a long, narrow band stretching northwest to southeast from Lake Erie to the Ohio River.
When we pulled onto the long steep lane that leads to our cottage, an inch of fresh, fluffy snow welcomed us. Initially the lane goes uphill. At the summit, the road dives into the woods, and quickly curves right, down a steep, straight slope.
Just as I began the decline, the car stopped out of respect. It couldn’t crush the beauty before us, not at least until I had taken some pictures of the virgin snow.
The limestone on the lane must have been warm enough to melt the snow on impact. Everyplace else, the snow stuck undisturbed, beautiful, mesmerizing.
With the concealed sun unable to lessen the early winter grip on the landscape, the panoramic scene seemed basic black and white. The only variation came in the clay colored clouds.
I snapped a few photos and returned to the vehicle. I guided it ever so slowly down the straight slope, around the hard left-hand curve, under slow laden white pine bows, toward the lake that reflected the steely sky.
We made the final zigzag up the lane and into the drive to the cottage. This last leg of the trip adds a faux remoteness to the location. I had brought along a leaf blower to dispense with any remaining natural litter on the cottage deck. I should have tossed in the snow shovel instead.
The combination of the snow and the cabin’s chill called for a fire in the impressive sandstone fireplace. I obediently responded.
With the fire underway, I cranked up the chain saw and headed out into the morning sharpness. Each time I exhaled my glasses steamed up.
There is something about snow, especially the season’s first, that exhilarates me. I have to plunge headlong into it.
The chain saw, which had not run in months, must have liked the snow, too. It purred right along, and the two of us accomplished our woodcutting goal in less than an hour.
The snow was still in place when our friends arrived late morning. They wore the same smiles as my wife and I. I don’t know if it was the snow, the blazing fire, the setting or the combination there of.
No matter how long you live where it snows, there is just something extra special about that first snowfall. This one was breathtaking.