Winter’s Here: Time for Inaction

A storm is brewing, possibly a foot of new snow, we’re told. After a lifetime of confronting winter’s challenges, I still love it, but in a different way.

I can’t predict the weather, but I can predict what will happen when it snows. The city snowplow will begin its rounds at o’dark in the morning. Snug under the covers, I will awaken to the scrape and rattle of plow on my street, knowing what will greet me when I get up. In addition to the beauty of a crystal white blanket as far as the eye can see, there’ll be a plow-created berm of snow and ice blocking the end of my driveway. 

Not a real recent photo, but a celebration of snow

There’s a reason I live in a four-season environment. Winter feeds my soul as it nurtures the earth beneath our feet. Since childhood I’ve viewed snow as an opportunity for play, from building snow people to skiing down mountain slopes. Even the task of moving snow from an inconvenient place to somewhere out of the way made me a happy warrior. I would don layers of clothing, woolen hats, scarves, and mittens, and fire up the snowblower.

My trusty little snowblower had an electric starter, but I took macho pride in setting the choke, pulling the cord and thrilling to the roar of its instantaneous response. I relished guiding clouds of snow onto ever-higher banks lining the driveway. It was so much fun, I cleared not only the driveway but sidewalks, parking space along the street, and the broad concrete patio on the river side of my house. 

Things change. Just as we cannot deny our reality of climate change bringing wetter, heavier snow, I cannot deny my reality of osteoporosis, resulting in a series of spinal compression fractures. My snow removing days are done. Reluctantly, I gave the blower away last fall, removing temptation. The glacial berms were impenetrable for the little machine anyway, and there are safer ways for me to exercise.

The early snow storm a few weeks ago resulted in a solid berm that kept me housebound for a couple days. I’m within walking distance of grocery store, library, post office, and yarn shop, but the daily cycle of melting and refreezing made walking too treacherous. I was perfectly comfortable in a warm house with well-stocked kitchen. Only the dog gets cabin fever. 

We were ultimately liberated with the help of attentive neighbors and my yard guy. I hadn’t even tried to call the commercial snow removers. I’m told they were so besieged they quit answering their phones.

It’s about to happen all over again. I used to prepare for snowstorms with an action plan, and I still do. My action was a voicemail message to the yard guy, who will show up eventually, probably later than sooner. I’m settling in like at the theater, waiting for the drama to unfold.

I’m content. It’s the first week of Advent, my favorite liturgical season, a time of anticipation and preparation. In my younger years the preparation was external, now it’s internal. I’m learning that life is amply rich when we do less and be more.

Henry David Thoreau wrote about times when he “could not afford to sacrifice the bloom of the present moment to any work, whether of head or hands.” He described endless hours of simply sitting, time not wasted, hours not “subtracted from my life, but so much over and above my usual allowance.” 

Need more time, a longer day? Let it snow, and then let it be.

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