The transition to cold and dark has been as soft as it's ever been here in Vermont this year. Temperatures have ratcheted down ever so slightly day to day, and there's been lots of time to dig the layers out of hiding in the bottom of the closet, the summer garb organically making its way to the bottom of the bin once again.
Last night I left my office in Williston Village a little before 5:00. Cloud cover and the calendar combined to make it almost night-dark, and a hopeful snowfall had begun, accompanied by almost no wind. The Village and the road were in their pre-holiday quiet mode, the drivers around me just a little tiny bit tentative, which was fine with me.
My layers- winter cycling pants, a thrift-store wool-blend sweater, a shell, balaclava, Home Depot clear safety glasses- were somehow perfect. Not too hot, just a little cool setting out. I'd switched my wheels over the weekend before. The winter set I just built adds a little rim width, an extra tooth on the cog (and about three fewer gear inches, for those of you keeping score at home), and some bigger tires with a bit of tread. The tires produced a slight thrum I could feel or hear, but I'm not sure which.
Meanwhile, the snowflakes, even as they were flying toward me in my headlight (illuminated dash-dash-dash as opposed to a steady stream, some otherwise imperceptible cycling of the light to blame), were perceptible as the "good" fluffy, hexagonal sort. Not those little "I" shaped crystals that sting your skin. No, these flakes had had some time up in the clouds to mature before falling to earth.
"Snow on the ground can reduce ambient noise by 5-30 decibels." I just read that somewhere. I wonder what that does on top of wearing a balaclava, on top of being lost in thought and wonder and sensation. Probably a lot. That little bit of snow sure did a lot for me last night.