Through the Slow Falling Snow


I feel this space slipping away, like the snow that melted yesterday, turning to water under the high sun and running down and across the softening back roads I drove with my son on our way home from the ski mountain, passing a rapidly diminishing pint of Ben & Jerry’s back and forth between us, windows down to all the smells of the new world, singing along loudly to Good Lord Lorrie between bites. And I’ve been learning that believing/And that barely breaking even/It’s just a part of life for you and me/And I’ve been living with the loneliness/It’s got down in my bones I guess/It’s just another phase of being free.

Only a few nights prior, in the company of the same boy, I’d skied by headlamp into a squall, the spiraling flakes magnified by the bright-lit cones of light cast from our foreheads, the trees waving and creaking in the wind. We skied to the height of our land, then cut across a wet area where often the deer bed in fall, maybe it’s a bog, maybe it’s not, and on this night a grouse burst from the snow directly beneath my skis. Its frantically beating wings brushed my arm and if only I’d had half a mind, I could have reached out and plucked it from the air. But in that moment half a mind was half a mind too much, and the bird landed high in a nearby spruce. Rye and I skied on into the storm.

It’s been a serious winter. Snow on the ground since mid-November, and only one significant thaw. In many places, the snowbanks along the back roads are higher than the roof of our car; mailboxes are carved out of their depths and driveways split them, narrowed to car-width tunnels by the accumulated snow. The cows’ fence – a good 40-inches off the ground – became buried in places, and they finally decided they’d had enough of their winter stomping grounds, and stepped right over it. And so now are confined to the smaller, plank-fenced paddock until the barbed wire reappears. We’re behind on next year’s firewood – the snow is simply too deep for the tractor to navigate – but not too far behind; during that one extended thaw, back in the old year, I felled and skidded a nice pile of sugar maple logs, and I know right where the rest is coming from.

I am writing plenty, though not here, obviously, and mostly for money, which of course is at once a blessing and curse, though I’m not so jaded as to realize it’s more of the former than the latter. I’m grateful for the work, as I’ve been grateful for this good winter, and also for the way the grouse’s wings felt against my jacketed arm, delicate and desperate at once, the bird rising fast through the slow falling snow. And I’m grateful for those of you who continue to read here, despite my long absences. Thank you.



36 thoughts on “Through the Slow Falling Snow”

  1. I miss you when you don’t write. Sometimes I only realize you’ve been gone then I hear your voice again.

  2. A man on skies flushed a grouse
    Who escaped in the snow what a louse!
    Up flew the scared bird
    In a flash that was blurred,
    No free lunch for that man’s hungry spouse.

  3. I’ll be here as long as you will, Ben. Sometimes I wait to read your posts, for those times when I need a moment of quiet and peace. Thank you.

  4. Wow, what an amazing experience. And coming from a place where we get excited for 8 inches, I really can’t imagine snow that deep. A winter wonderland, but then comes the mud…

  5. Count me among the thankful when your email of a new post arrives in my inbox. We’ve had a similar winter here in the Colorado Rockies and it is such a blessing.

  6. I always look forward to your posts as well as re-reading your books. I gain something new each time. If you are able or want to share where we can find your current writing efforts, I am sure I would not be the only one to eagerly seek them out. I hope you are earning enough to be able to eat some really good cheese. I think you once said something about that if you had plenty of money and I agreed. I could become a cheese snob very easily if my wallet were more heavily lined, 🙂 Peace and thanks!

  7. It always feels like I’m experiencing your life while reading your words. A small vacation to a faraway land. I sure do look forward to these trips. Just last week I was pondering when we might meet again.

  8. I think the cool thing is that when we (or maybe just I) read your moments it’s like it’s happening to us/me. Which can be extremely refreshing after you’ve spent the day at one of those modern day kid’s birthday parties, where there is a frickin’ DJ playing really loud shitty music, and Dominoes pizza that gave me cottonmouth and a sore throat, and 500 Disney presents (because the kid likes Disney) that will just go into a landfill (did I mention we live between two of them?), and some kid barfed all over the floor, and I got into an argument with some dad about mandatory vaccines (he thinks the gov’t should inject anything they want). So then I get home and read about a grouse, and I can feel it’s feathers fluttering against me, and I’m like, “What fuckin’ birthday party?”…which kicks ass.

  9. In Denmark we have hardly had any snow this warm winter, so reading about the high walls of snow is an adventure. Thank you for writing, when you do 🙂

  10. Hey Ben,

    While this is fun for those of us who follow you, it should be quite a ways down on your priority of stuff to get done. I must admit that I miss getting my vicarious rural New England infusion more regularly, but you’ve got a homestead, a Wife, and 2 teenage boys to focus your time and energy on.
    Last week we had 4 feet of snow in our back yard, now we don’t have any snow, but we do have record flooding. It is a good time to live on the top of a ridge where water runs from, and not at the bottom of the ridge, where water runs toward.

  11. I check in often and look for a fix of a few words, and when they appear, I read them and Smile!! So thanks for Sharing Ben!

  12. I really enjoy your writing, and appreciate that you continue to write in this space–with whatever frequency.

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