Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Zen of winter

Yesterday brought another winter weather event to those of us assigned to the purgatory that is the Northeast in January. Actually, despite the warnings of the local news and weather people, with their dire storm theme music and predictions of treacherous travel, yesterday’s “storm” wasn’t bad at all.

I spent part of my afternoon commute to my soon-to-be ending seasonal job, reflecting on when did all this hysteria around a few snowflakes begin? While I may have missed it with the more important pursuits of growing up—girls, games and guitars—I rarely remember snow being a big deal, and we seemed to have more frequent snowfalls, with greater amounts.

As I tooled along Route 136 bordering the Androscoggin River heading into Auburn, the road had a few places where I could feel my car beginning to slide, so I just backed off the accelerator, like any winter-driving pro would do. Unfortunately for me, I never got to utilize my winter driving skills to the max, as I approached car after car, barely creeping along at 30 mph. Most of the trip could have been easily negotiated at or approaching the posted speed limit of 45, if not for the incessant fear-laden drivers in my path.

Winter has its perks. You’ll think I’m crazy, but most of the time, I enjoy shoveling after a fresh snowfall. No snowblower or tractor for me to clear the compound. No sir! Certainly, if one has a bad back, or other physical limitations shoveling might kill you; at the least, it might land you in the hospital. Fortunately for me, I’m still not too fat, or decrepit to systematically clear my paths and area of the driveway where my cars sit. Granted, I have a snowplow come and clear my 300 foot driveway, but the other areas of my yard bring a certain enjoyment in the patterns created with my shovel and strong back.

Probably the pleasure derived from shoveling was learned as a child, when my father and I would go out after a storm and work our way, first shoveling the driveway, path to the mailbox, and clothesline area for my mom. Over the years, I’ve developed a particular fastidiousness about keeping my yard clean, whether it was the small apartment I lived in, or the rural three acres I sit on today.

The temperatures are supposed to rise and tomorrow, rain is predicted. That’s the part of winter I’ve come to despise. If we’d only have snow, without sleet, freezing rain and plain rain, I’d probably enjoy winter more. At least I got a couple of treks through the woods in on my skis over the past few days. It was a needed diversion from manuscript editing, working on my monthly newsletter for WriteforYou, and the other drudgery of being cooped up inside.

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