I awoke very early and spent two hours reading in bed before dawn. I'm reading the draft of the Pine Knoll story, a book of family history written by my cousin Janet Nichols Derouin as she compiled entries from old letters and family diaries. The year is 1860...
By the fourth of December Mr. Daily was working full time on the cellar hole and North Danvers had its first snow fall of the season, four inches which came in the night, and Andrew commented the next day: 1st. sleighing of the season. I staid in office and washed Harness with castile sope and oiled Boots in AM.
On the eighth he wrote: went skating for the 1st. time On Mill Pond 2 hours in PM.
I smiled at the phrase "1st. sleighing of the season." Yesterday, as Ken and I drove home through gently-falling snow, most of the well-travelled roads were partly slush, with some wet black pavement showing. But when we turned onto our street, the roadway was evenly white, with the snow cover rather smoothly packed into place. "Ready for sleighing," I had commented. Packing snow down, rather than plowing it or spreading salt to melt it away, was the old-fashioned method of dealing with snow on roadways. Ken and I have neither sleigh nor horse, but we have sometimes, after snowstorms, skied along our road before the city plows arrive to spoil the fun.
Historic note: the cellar hole mentioned above was the beginning of the house that my great-grandfather Andrew would build on his newly-acquired farmland in north Danvers. That house would come to be known as "Pine Knoll" and I have many memories of it. Andrew was 23 at that time, engaged but not yet married.