Crashing Down

It snows all weekend, a warm snow that accumulates slowly but eventually piles to eight inches or more. For only the second time this winter, I plow the driveway, the wet snow rolling into huge balls as I push it with the tractor. I like plowing snow, though I liked it more when we had a plow truck and I could drink coffee and listen to music as I plowed, continually rubbing away the condensation that formed on the inside of the windshield no matter how high I ran the defroster. And I liked it even better back when the boys were small and would ride along, laughing at the sudden stops and starts, already attuned to the thrill of wielding powerful machinery. Plowing with the tractor is slower, less comfortable, and lonelier – no coffee, no music, no heat, no windshield, no sons – but it beats a shovel by a country mile.

By Monday morning, the temperature has dropped. The cold, aided by a steady breeze, has dried out the snow. It always amazes me how that happens. Again I ski along the mountain ridge, but this time I go further, time and again passing the point I’ve identified as my turn around. The snow is so good. It whispers under my skis. The trees emit cracks and pops in the cold. It’s almost a conversation.

I pass a large paper birch, half-chewed through by beaver and still standing, but otherwise see no signs of wildlife, hear no birdsong. Everyone hunkered down, I guess. Funny to think of them in their snowbound worlds, uninterrupted by the virus, unconcerned with events that I can’t seem stop reading about, even when I know what good it does me. Which is not too bloody much. Again and again I pledge to not look at the news upon waking; again and again I look at the news upon waking. Coffee on the woodstove, the splintering world caught in the computer on my lap. If only it would stay there, though sometimes it seems that if I simply refused to lend it my attention, it would. I know it’s wishful thinking.

Finally I turn back. The snow still whispering. The trees still cracking and popping. The half-chewed birch still standing, though the closer I look, the more tenuous it seems. So I hurry on, not at all wanting to be crushed when it comes crashing down.

6 thoughts on “Crashing Down”

  1. Ben….You write about the cold and the breeze drying out the snow, something that I never thought about until now. Sounds like hanging out laundry on a sparkling winter day.
    I think we are all in the same boat as far as the news goes, so well described here.
    Appreciate the photo a lot! Backs up the imagery you create. Makes it tangible. Nice.

  2. With you every step.
    We got plenty of snow but also the dreaded breakable crust. Still great to be out. I’ve lost all urge to ski groomed or even well-used bc trails. All I want is to be alone in the woods, or maybe with one friend, following a pair of tracks I laid the day before. Maybe have a few tiny adventures exploring some trail I’ve not yet followed, adding to the map in my mind. A couple of easy swoopy downhills here and there. Maybe blue skies if you’re lucky. What else do you need? I mean other than justice and peace in the real world.

  3. I can’t stop looking either, even though I don’t believe 90% of what we are being told. Started doing that ‘tapping’ and meditation before bed at night and it frickin’ helps! Thank you for not allowing birch trees to kill you.

  4. I guess a new word was invented (among many) this past year. Doomscrolling. I wake up each morning with neck pain from looking at this damn phone.
    First comment I’ve written and not subsequently deleted in months. Are you proud of me?
    Good luck quitting the news. I’m there with you.

  5. Ben, I just got one of those fancy 7.3’s we talked about up at Michael’s. It’s a beast! You’re right, the pinnacle of snow removal is doing it with kiddos. I’ll usually let them crawl up into the front seat where my little girl Cedar holds onto me for dear life and my boy Kaj mimics the shapes and movements of the v-plow with his hands…noises included!

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