Another Short One


In the storm

The storm was impressive, three straight days of snow in waves of varying intensity and duration. By the time the sky cleared, I’d plowed the driveway four times, and our foot travel had become restricted to prescribed paths. Even on snowshoes, we sink deep.

Yesterday I skied the perimeter of our property; it was cold enough, but the high March sun had turned the top layer sticky, and I stopped no fewer than a half-dozen times to scrape the bottoms of my skis against the rough bark of a spruce or maple to remove the accumulated snow. It was frustrating, and more than once I thought of turning back, but my old body still knows a thing or two, and yesterday it knew it needed sun, and sweat, and, in the handful of minutes between scraping clean the bottom of my skis and the re-accumulation of snow, that ethereal feeling of gliding through the forest. Of being carried, almost.

It’s strange to be thrust back into winter this late in the game, particularly after so many mild weeks. I think about the deer; only a few days ago we watched them graze the south-facing, snow-bare field across the cleft of the mountain road. Our younger son took off one afternoon to see how close he could get; he counted 20. The shift in weather must be disorienting to them, too, the does fat with spring fawns, hungry as any of us for something green.

Daylight now. Chore time. It’s cold again, nearly zero. The ice on the animal’s water will be thick.






15 thoughts on “Another Short One”

  1. “That ethereal feeling of gliding through the forest. Of being carried, almost.” Magnificent Ben . . . MAGNIFICENT!

    1. I like thIs one, very descriptive and another Ben Hewitt story that transports me 40+ years into the past. The technology of cross-country skiing made a leap around 1974, going from skis that were 100% laminated wood construction, like alpine skis from the pre-1960 era, to fiberglass, foam, and plastic. I remember that the transition from the all wood Balsalet brand that was very light, but very fragile, to the synthetic Fischer, Kastle, and Kneissl Austrian brands occurred almost overnight.

      One of my most vivid memories of that time was cross-country skiing though the the hay fields and sugar orchards with my girl friend on those rare nights when there was fresh powder and a full moon. The only sound was the “soosh, soosh, soosh” as we pushed the snow and broke trail.

  2. Your post resonated with me after reading David Haskell’s piece yesterday in NY Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/17/opinion/sunday/the-seasons-arent-what-they-used-to-be.html (he documents all the references on his blog)
    Spring 20 days earlier, trees come out 18 days earlier now than in 1850s, warmest February in recorded history, kudzu moving up to NY, impact on migratory birds and native plants. . . The change seems most apparent in Southern states, where Haskell recorded frogs in January and February in TN, and people in Virginia recording geese movements north 2 months ahead of time. Yet Northern states just as much connected to this roller coaster motion sickness as he calls it.
    20 days more to heat the house in 1850s would account for some of that firewood discrepancy.

    1. Thanks for the link, Bee. Can’t wait to read this. I’ve started to feel old when I find myself saying, “Back when I was young, we had REAL winter where it actually STAYED cold for months at a time. Imagine that!” 🙂 This roller coaster weather is certainly strange….

      1. I hear you, Dawn, about the “old person’s stories” I realized my kids hear all the time: when I was your age, I made my own pancakes from scratch and put away hay for the cows, washed all laundry by hand, and you complain about getting milk out of the fridge. 🙂
        The fact that the weather patterns, the earth patterns had changed so much in just our extremely short lifetime is almost unfathomable to me. We just recently visited Tuzigoot ruins of a Native American settlement, which was built between 1000 and 1400. Now, in the long run of things, this is still pretty recent. But a viable community lived there for about 400 years, which is much longer than the U.S.A. has been a country as we know it today. In that whole time, 400 years (about 12 generations!), the community expanded from one family to about 220-250 people, with about 110 communal rooms. They survived on subsistence farming in the fertile valley and lived in 200 sq foot rooms per family, and shared some storage and communal rooms. Eventually, around 1400 something (draught – most likely, enemy, religious reasons) caused the inhabitants to abandon their settlement and to move on.
        Now, fast forward to 2017, few miles down the road we are having over 2,000 suburban homes, averaging 2,000 sq feet being built in the next 2 years, which will house perhaps 6,000 people, in addition to some 200,000+ scattered in the general area. Same high desert climate, same water resources… just higher consumption. It really paints a picture to me of just how unsustainable we are.

      2. OK I’m not getting the inference here. Maybe I’m dense and without imagination. It seems as if we can build a community of 6,000 people we are doing pretty good on the sustainability. The technology we have sustains a lot more people than the technology available for 250 people. Can you ‘splain please? If there were 6,000 people using the year 1400 technology, now that would be unsustainable! See what I’m saying?

        I’m probably dense. I do agree that we consume way more than we absolutely need to.

  3. I often think, like you, of the animals in the wild. What a life! Huddled in the trees or hunkered down in the grass, rain or snow pelting their faces. Once, I moved through the horse herd on a stormy day. They stood with their butts to the wind and rain. Staying together but not too close to maximize, what? heat? Every one of them shivering. I was glad they were well fed.

  4. Great! We love snow, storms, animals and short stories. Well done.:-)
    Wishing you a fabulous Sunday,
    The Fab Four of Cley,

  5. I’ve been thinking about the deer, too, since I just spent my first Fall hunting. I think of them often on those bitter cold days, especially when Spring has peaked its head out for an extended time in Winter. Makes me feel sad that humans are changing ecosystems so much and that deer and other animals just have to live with it – until they can’t.

    Matt, transitionrewild.blogspot.com

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