You don’t have to be a person to have a personality. No, you don’t.
Winter saw me buying seeds at Walmart this week and decided to throw a fit. I was awake numerous times last night, listening to the wind howling outside, coming down the fireplace chimney. Sure enough, this morning there was new snow, and drifts everywhere. Window screens were flocked with wind driven whiteness. Hungry birds and squirrels were trying to find the sunflower seeds they knew were there yesterday. It would be another day of shoveling and plowing in our community.
I feel sorry for the geese I’ve seen flying around, looking for nesting places in the marsh. I’m a little sorry I had the car washed this week. I’d like to see green out the windows instead of white. But I am not at all dismayed by this fury. I know that the fight often intensifies because someone or something knows it’s going to lose.
Apparently winter also knows its days are numbered and wants to get in as many punches as possible before wandering off to a different hemisphere. I’m hopeful that nature is giving us a metaphor for the craziness in our world – it could be. The natural world is God’s spokesman and his creation. He came up with the plan for seasons and they’ve been happening ever since, in nature and in the history of man.
So today, I am walking in snow, but also planting some seeds and putting the pots in a south facing window. I intend to wait winter out, and I think I’ll win.
Sometimes when you pay attention to something it becomes satisfied and goes away…
I was sitting with Mom this morning in our usual places – looking out the window at our small street. My brother was out blowing away the latest snowfall, even as it continued to fall. Suddenly huge clumps of the stuff came flying through the air and hit the side of the house. But most of it landed in the yard where it has been accumulating all winter. The lilac bush that is only slightly shorter than I am is buried once again.
Yesterday I thought it would be fun to play in the snow for a change. Mom has been pointing out how the snow is so high in the yard that she no longer can see which cars are coming and going. She takes her job of monitoring our neighborhood seriously and the snow was cramping her style. I decided to shave off a foot or two of the bank in front of her window, so she could see better.
I was surprised to be able to walk on top of the huge drifts without sinking in. There have been so many layers of ice in between snowfalls that I was supported wherever I walked. It is so strange to be standing on top of a bush that you know is probably at least four feet tall. I carefully picked chunks of snow from around the tender branches and twigs of the bush until the top of it was exposed.
And then last night’s snowfall…
Our furnace has gone out twice in the last two weeks. Since we have a boiler that heats the cement slab floor, it takes a while for it to cool down (and a while for it to heat up again). It is a beautiful way to have even temperature and nice warm floors. I don’t usually notice something is wrong until it gets down to 67 degrees inside. I pulled out the small space heaters from storage and tried to keep the husband comfortable while my brother called the repair man. After a good cleaning, the boiler was back in operation and a day later all was normal.
A week later it happened again. I couldn’t believe it – so soon after having been fixed. This time I was surprised to hear the repair guy up on the roof, shoveling snow. The exhaust stack, which is about two feet tall, had been buried by a huge drift. Uncovering it fixed the problem. Thank you winter.
So it is still definitely winter in March, as well as January and February, well… and December, and probably November. And possibly April. Yeah.
To live up here in northern Wisconsin, it is best to patiently make peace with winter, and even give it a little attention. As long as we aren’t in danger of freezing, or having to drive on ice, it can be exciting to see how extreme conditions can get.
This has been a very snowy winter, one in which I have been more restricted to being indoors, have skied less, have been less social. On the somewhat brighter side, daylight savings ends next week and we will have longer afternoon light again. I will also have one more full moon this week and one more chance for a moonlight ski. There’s always something to look forward to. (Like winter being over… shhhh, don’t tell it.)
Winter is struggling. It knows its days are numbered, but it doesn’t want to give up without a fuss. I know it likely has another storm or two to annoy us, but the longer days (yay! thank God!) and the higher trajectory of the sun are doing their job. We still have two or three feet of snow on the yards but there is melt taking place every day.
I’ve enjoyed many things about winter, and am ignoring those other things, whatever they are.
I skied 24 times, and have only to go out once more to meet my goal of 25. Some of those times could be titled “Freezing with Friends” but many have been perfect winter days and not at all uncomfortable. Skiing – we all know what it looks like and don’t give it a second thought when watching it. There’s a difference when you call it “walking on slippery surfaces with shoes over five feet long”. Suddenly it becomes ridiculous and dangerous. But, I’ve only fallen a couple of times and I have not broken any of my bones!
Our February ended with the American Birkebeiner, the biggest cross country ski event in the U.S. I’m in a much safer role for this activity. I help serve hot soup to people who’ve just done 55k on skis and lived to tell about it. Ten thousand bowls over two days – we volunteers have seen enough chicken noodle soup to last for a while.
Reading to my husband, watching Dr. Phil with Mom, early morning briefings over coffee with the family, errands, grocery shopping, a little housework now and then, trips to the clinic for doctor’s appointments, fixing meals, changing light bulbs, paying bills, playing with the cat… welcome to my world.
Which is so tame and safe compared to what is happening over in Ukraine. The people there are more like me than unlike me, with their parkas and winter hats. I think about them most of the day, pulling their suitcases across the border to safety, hiding in the subways with their children, taking up weapons and going out to actually shoot, and many of them dying. They are dealing bravely with their circumstances and I admire them, pray for them.
It doesn’t feel right to watch war on the news, to be a bystander. It feels a lot like being in the Roman coliseum watching the lions being unleashed on the undeserving and helpless. It’s not acting. It’s not a game show or a mini-series. I feel very affected and yet I have to go on working out my less important, more mundane circumstances, watching as one more winter comes to a close. I have to say, it is very strange and disturbing.
We get snow as a regular winter thing where I live. I realize others do not. But it’s interesting this year to see how many places are getting to experience the mixed blessings of fluffy, frozen rain. I’m watching a bit awe struck to see how it is dealt with (or not) from place to place. I’m actually glad that I live where snow hardly ever makes the news except when there’s not enough of it.
It’s Thursday. Motels and restaurants are gearing up for the weekend influx of snowmobilers, skiers, snowshoers, and fat bike enthusiasts. A snowmobile trail crosses our driveway and sometimes it looks like there is more traffic on it than on the road. We’ve had several snow days lately and there is a good covering on the ground. Yesterday it came down all day and the plows were running constantly, keeping the roads as clear as possible. I traveled out to do some snowshoeing with friends and my car was so covered with snow and ice that I had to give it a bath in the garage when I returned. This kind of thing is normal life in northern Wisconsin.
I deal with a snowy winter in two ways. On below zero days I have trouble making myself go outside. Instead I sit inside and eat, drink tea and stare out the window. On days when temps are above zero I make myself go out. It’s still not easy because there is all that unusual dressing that has to be done. Lots of necessary activities cannot be done with two or three layers of clothing snapped and velcroed in place, so the prep to go outside is as important as having the right jackets, boots, mittens, caps, etc…. My pockets have to contain all the right stuff too – tissues, phone, mailbox key, car key, mask. That’s the short list.
But once I get all that done and am outside looking at this beautiful, frozen world, I am always glad to have put forth the effort. Snow is snow, and the pictures don’t change much from year to year, but I take them anyway. Here is my snowy world.
February had this one last day to show up with something good and it decided that snow would be its choice. I walked over to Mom’s to say good morning and the walkways were bare and dry. I came home an hour later wading through several inches of very loosely packed, huge snowflakes. It was clear that shoveling and plowing would have to take place again. February is known for being indecisive about its weather.
It was worse by the time we traveled to the church. The highways weren’t completely plowed. The confusing thing about new snow is the way it seems to erase important things like where the roads and ditches are. Everything is just white and more white and even the air is full of flying white. The husband’s remark, “maybe we should have stayed home today?”
But I was kind of glad that I would have at least another day of skiing, possibly a whole week. We ended up with about 8 inches which was just enough to fill in all the ski trails I had made the last time I went out. It was a different kind of snow too – so very wet that I could not get the skis to slide at all. The walk was much like traveling in very large snowshoes. I only went for a mile but the scenery was amazing and the experience of being out while the snow was coming down was worth it.
I knew this month would most likely be a difficult month, unless I purposely looked for the goodness of God in it. Winter seems too long in February, especially a pandemic winter. A good friend’s death seemed imminent and, indeed, has come to pass. I seem stuck in some patterns I want to move out of. There are things I want to do that seem out of reach. February is a month of waiting for change. I know that if I wait long enough, change is certain, and for that I am glad. Change is part of God’s goodness.
March 1st, tomorrow, in the year 2021 has never happened before. It is brand new, like our snow today. There are good changes to plan for, dream about, pray about, and bring about. Looking forward to it, just sayin’…
YesterdayI stepped outside into several inches of new snow. It fell most of the day as well. I also saw that the next seven days were going to be our coldest streak of the winter – staying below zero degrees most of the time. It was as if February was giving me permission to “chill”. So I did.
January and February are our most serious winter months and often have the most severe weather. When I was a child it was with great anticipation that I listened in the dark, pre-dawn hours for the radio announcer to give the school cancellations. Back then -30 degrees was the bench mark for us to stay home, the buses would not be running that day. Or, at least, they wouldn’t be running until it warmed up a little.
I have that same feeling now when I see a blizzard, or a arctic freeze coming. It’s permission to curl up under a blanket, start the fireplace, read more books. Yesterday’s good things were:
A puzzle that got started.
Knitting projects brought out
I made soup. We ate it before I could take a picture. Sorry. It was Lentil Soup.
It was the kind of day that brings relief to the parts of you that have been getting tired (unless you’re the one responsible for shoveling the snow…). It’s okay to get sleepy and take a nap. It’s okay to sit by a window and watch snow fall. Spend a few extra minutes with a cat on your lap. Yesterday February gave permission for those good things.
I crashed. Taking off from my walking challenge was intentional Christmas Day. I don’t know what happened the day after that but no walking was done then either, (Oh, that’s right, it was the husband’s birthday. He got my walking time.) By Saturday night I was like wreckage. I sprawled in the recliner and looked terrible, felt terrible, and probably acted terrible. I was complaining and practically weeping as I tried to explain it to mom and my brother and niece. The frustrating part was not knowing why the sudden drop in energy, motivation, positivity. Was I sick (Covid, aaaagh!) or was I having endorphin withdrawal? Was that even a thing?
I forced myself back on the treadmill last night and tonight. I guess I feel better, but it was really strange and I’m not completely out of that bad space yet. Honestly, it was having to report in here that kept me from quitting – and the fact that my family was laughingat supporting me and being sympathetic. Thank you guys.
After my pity party over at Mom’s I was walking back to my condo and momentarily all the bad stuff was forgotten. The snow that had been drifting in all day, and the dark, and the lights were so arresting I had to stop in the freezing cold and just look. The snowflakes were so large and flat that the light reflected off them everywhere. The dark sky was a complete contrast to the glittery, sparkles on the ground. Winter moments like these are the reason I can stand to live up here.
This morning the snowplows were running before daylight, when it’s still kind of hard to see where you’re plowing. I shoveled myself out and had coffee with Mom. My brother got off his snowblower long enough to join us and then went back to work.
But the sun did come out. Walking outside seemed a possibility and I did have some things to deliver at our church, which is only about a mile away. I put on every possible winter layer, including a mask which, for once, was a help, not an aggravation. There was a breeze which was chilly when I was walking into it. Our temp was about 5 degrees F.
I stomped into the church with frost on my eyebrows and semi-numb feet. I didn’t realize that I had arrived at the same time as the work party for the coming Christmas Eve event. By the time I delivered my envelopes to the office I had also been given a job. I had nothing better to do so I put up lights, erected a wooden menagerie of animals, and carried decorations here and there. Every time I took off my mittens, even for a few seconds, I was amazed at how fast the cold became painful.
By the time I set out for home, my feet were more like blocks of ice but I hadn’t gotten my steps in for the day. Hitching a ride was out of the question. I knew I could make it, and I did, but it was the fastest section of my walk for the day. My app said I was walking 5.5 miles per hour at one point, but that would be more like running so I think it must be wrong. All I could think about was getting warm again… fireplace, hot drink, my “blankie”.
It is beautiful after a snow, and I did snap a few pictures because I couldn’t not do that. (There are times when nothing says it better than a double negative.)
I might rest tomorrow instead of taking a walk. It’s supposed to be even colder. Just sayin’… May you all find a blessing in your Christmas celebration.
Living in northern Wisconsin, I am used to winter starting early and ending late. We had a good snow earlier, but then it gradually melted. We’ve had bare ground for several weeks now.
Today Mom and I spent the whole day at the house we are helping to pack up for our friends. We’ve nearly got the upstairs conquered. Tonight, and by that I mean 5 pm, I went out in the darkness to put a couple things in the truck and was surprised and a bit alarmed at the weather. It had been raining, just above the freezing point, all day. The water had been dripping off the roof onto a pile of metal bound for the recycling station, making a loud sound like a running faucet. But now, it was snowing and the wind had picked up. There were two inches of white stuff on the ground already and clouds of it were being hurled around, blizzard style.
My truck door opened with a crack, breaking a film of ice. I hurried back in to help Mom out and once in the truck we wondered if the wipers would be able to clear the windshield. I have a scraper somewhere in the back seat but it was buried beneath the boxes of things we were taking home to sort out. We were able to see out the front after a few swipes of the wipers, and I lowered both front windows to clear them enough to see the lights of other cars on the street.
We live only about a mile from where we were working and I was glad of that. The road was snow covered and no longer had edges and lane markings. The few cars that were out were going slowly and following each other’s tracks. A deep enough layer of snow removes all boundaries and landmarks, making everything look strangely unfamiliar.
But it is exciting. Whereas we were having a relatively boring, predictable weather pattern, now, SOMETHING WAS DEFINITELY HAPPENING!!
We made it home without mishap. I was glad to push the button and see my garage door go up. What a blessing to have a warm, dry place to drive into. Tomorrow the blessings will continue because we will have a good excuse to stay at home and sort through the boxes and bags of our friend’s belongings. Staying at home will be restful, even though there is plenty to do. I need the change. For us, at least this time, the blizzard is our friend.
I got about 7,000 of my steps today going up and down the stairs where I was working. It was easy to get the last 3,000 on the treadmill. And now I am ready to turn out the lights and be snug in bed, listening to the howling fury outside.