Tell Me About That


The snow is almost ceaseless. It is snowing even now, again, as I write this. I plow, then I plow again, then again. The driveway is a narrow chute wending between walls of snow, and I cannot believe I have not gotten the plow truck stuck. Not yet, anyway. The cats sit on windowsills, watching over the their domain, keeping their paws warm. Yesterday, someone said to me “we were so close,” and I wanted to be cheeky and say “close to what?” but I didn’t, and besides, I knew. The ground was nearly bare for a time. One day it was 60-degrees and the sap ran. We made a half-gallon of syrup. The time changed and I remembered my father’s saying: Daylight savings is just the government’s way of reminding you who’s in charge, but when I told this to Melvin one night in the barn when I was feeding hay to his cows he just scoffed and said doesn’t seem to me like the government’s in charge of much of anything. To which I said I wish you were right, and was pleased with myself.

I love the sound of 40 cows chewing.

I do my work. I walk the narrow footpaths between barn and house and car and tractor. I feed the cows, water them. I tell my students “don’t write it was dark. Instead, write it was darker than a carload of assholes.” (hat tip to George V. Higgins) I tell them not to spend so much time flying at 30,000-feet, and instead get down on the ground, in the mud. Maybe even roll around in it. Feel how cool it is, how squishy and sweet-smelling? Take up a handful. Squeeze it. See how dark it is? Maybe not darker than a carload of assholes, but still pretty damn dark. I say Tell me about that.

17 thoughts on “Tell Me About That”

  1. Ben – How nice to get an update from you! Beginning to wonder if you were totally snowed in up there. We had a nasty mid-December to mid-February down here (Nebraska) but nothing like New England has had.

  2. Your winter fatigue is palpable. It reminds me of the reasons our ancestors settled here in North Texas. It had to have been in March. It couldn’t have been in August. In August I will yearn for Vermont.

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. On Saint Patrick’s day, my true love said to me; two cats a-pawin’ . . forty cows a-chewin’ . . and a Ben charging with his great plow! 😝

  4. As a student, I might start with “We were so close….” And the mud exercise also brings York peppermint patty advertisement/remembrances to mind. When I eat one, I get the feeling……

  5. Well, before you know it, all that wonderful snow will melt and you’ll be into mud season. All of that March snow won’t even do the ski industry much good, as the majority of the paying customers that it seeks to attract have already transitioned from winter mode to spring mode. Most of the remaining die-hard skier are probably season pass holders who have paid most of what they are going to pay to ski during the 2017/2018 ski season such that the cost to remain open is likely to be more than the amount of green hitting the till.

    Every time I think that retiring in northern New England might be OK, I get a cold slap in the face and am reminded that a few weeks of spectacular autumn color doesn’t fully offset the 48 or so weeks when many of the geographic alternative found in the rest of the contiguous 48 seem more inviting.

    1. Yeah, it’s true. But when it’s good here, it’s GOOD. A couple weeks of bucolic New England weather can carry a body through a lot.

      Sent from Mail for Windows 10

  6. We have been thinking about you guys every time we see the national weather report. “Those (eastern) guys can’t get a break.” I wonder how you and your “animodes” (the way my daughter used to say “animals”) are doing. Now I know. Safe travels. Fall on the soft snow.

    I guess you don’t subscribe to the Hemingway style of writing. But I should go back and read. It’s my memory. I bet he wasn’t truly that spare.

    The Central Valley: We were worried that the weather gods had discussed it and said “well, we gave them all the water they needed and more last year.” One of them, with much influence, must have changed their minds. You’re plowing. We’re mowing. And mowing. And mowing. When we get a day where it’s dry enough.

    1. Hemingway… Hemingway. That name rings a bell, but I can’t quite place it.

      Nice to hear from you, Renee. Happy mowing!

      Sent from Mail for Windows 10

  7. You’ve still got two or three weeks of winter to get your plow truck good and stuck. I have faith that you’ll manage it somehow.

  8. Weather is such a huge subject and can be extremely trying, or worse. But I don’t know how many days, favorable weather or otherwise, I’ve been thankful the weather can’t be manipulated to suit people the way earth and waterways are. At least the days are always reliably longer.

  9. I am getting pretty tired of the snow here too. All in all more than 1,5 meters. And the days of sunshine since christmas could be counted on one hand and one would not even need all the fingers.
    But A few days ago the sun did come! And with it came crystalclear nightskies, temperature dipping to below -20C, but sunny days and even a hint of thaw!! The crust of refrozen snow is ruining the paws of the dogs and they are walking on eggs. But the chickens don’t care. they’re out even at -10 and are enjoying a sun- and dustbath as I write.
    I sure do hope our plowing days are over for the next 10 months or so!
    Springequinox is coming up, so the only assholes in cars we’ll be seeing are the ones behind the wheel…..

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