My morning commute almost always includes a stop at the bottom of Okemo's access road. Sweet Surrender is an a.m. oasis of fresh-baked goodies and hot Green Mountain coffee. A set of well-worn wooden stairs leads from the parking spaces to a wide wooden porch and on a cool fall day, the heat of the ovens meets me at the screen door like a welcoming warm embrace. Although the glass case is stocked with sweet treats, the "counter intelligence" (as the countertop tip jar indicates) workers know my preference and have a whole wheat blueberry muffin in a bag with the top neatly folded over, waiting on the counter before I finish fixing my coffee the way I like it.
The joke among marketing folks in the industry is that ski season starts August first. All the prep work that goes into ad buys, brochures and press kits starts well before that, but it all reaches the boiling point in mid-summer. By October, we're counting down the hours until opening day and everyone in the department is consumed by thoughts of winter and hopes for plentiful snow.
Granted, I can be in a fog before that first cup of java brings the world into focus ... and I have been surprised to find the weather in Ludlow much different from my point of origin 20 minutes south, but one day last week I found myself wondering how in the world it could have snowed in September!? I could hardly believe what my eyes were seeing as I made my daily pilgrimage to, as one co-worker refers to it, the muffin place.
The ground beneath the stairs was covered in white and as I climbed each step I felt certain I was in a dream. A light dusting of snow appeared to have fallen - but it was 60 degrees! It had the look of a typical first snow - just a light cover of granulated crystals that collect on less-than-frozen ground and melt away within hours of settling. It was as bright white as the season's first snow and it looked like a light breeze could send the frozen flakes aloft again.
It only took a few seconds for me to realize that what I was seeing was the result of a delivery-gone-bad. A wayward bag of sugar destined for the baker's oven must have broken open, leaving a coating of what my winter-obsessed mind could only interpret as snow. I felt foolish and delighted at the same time and was thankful for the brief premonition of the season ahead.