A Winter Kind of Crazy

The winter of 2014-15 has been a host of things: late-arriving, cold, snowy, and while it’s only been four weeks since the snow began piling up—the length of it feels like 70 years—or that’s the sense for most.

When faced with difficulty, Americans, at least those of us bred for softness and an effete, technology-centric way of life, take to social media to bitch and complain about the cold, the snow, and people pushing snow back out into the road (on certain Facebook pages about knowing you’re from Lisbon). I’m taking a decidedly different tack with today’s blog post.

If I’m being brutally honest, I must admit that I have had my moments since the end of January. It really does seem like we’ve all been put in Mr. Peabody’s WABAC Machine and transported back to the Ice Storm of ’98, or perhaps, the winters of my childhood, when the snow was deep, and men still knew how to shovel. And not to get all patriarchal on you, the women in my world weren’t expected to, but that’s a post for another, more sociological kind of day.

All in all, the constant shoveling (I actually know how to throw the snow, having learned the skill from the “Winter Carnival King of 1951” most likely during that fateful winter of ’69, and the one following in 1970), gathering of wood, splitting it, and keeping a fire cranking has actually gotten me outdoors, away from the technology trap, and out into the brisk, cold, wintry fresh air. I think it’s actually helped improve my outlook, too, especially compared to last January and February. That’s when the walls felt like they were slowly closing in, ready to crush me. The real world will do that to you, as opposed to the virtual one (aka, the fake one).

Have headlamp, will travel.

Have headlamp, will travel.

Just the other night, after returning home pre-dusk, I got a crazy notion. Would I have time to strap on my snowshoes and take a loop through the woods before total darkness fell? This being the domain of Wile E. Coyote and his baying brood, I had some concerns.

Not that I was freaking out, or anything, but when I found myself 20 minutes deep in the woods, necessitating the engagement of my LL Bean headlamp, I began getting a little anxious, even looking over my shoulder from time to time. I don’t know what I would have done if I came across Mr. Coyote and his minions. Call me crazy if you want, but I’d like to think it was a good kind of crazy.

Exiting the woods, I could see the silhouette of my house against the backlit sky. I kicked it into high gear, running the last stretch on my snowshoes.

This unbridled and spontaneous 35-minute bit of activity was a healthful way to end my work day. It also helped me to feel a sense of joy that accompanies the release of endorphins. Think a natural high, far superior to anything offered by technology and its assorted gadgets.

The welcome lights of home.

The welcome lights of home.

6 thoughts on “A Winter Kind of Crazy

  1. I think we’ve all had our moments this winter. Look! You’re still smiling. It’s all good.

    I don’t look over my shoulder for our resident bobcat like I do at just the thought of a coyote. Enjoy the snowshoeing. It won’t be long before the snow is gone (it won’t be long, right?). They say we’ll be above freezing next week!

  2. @Robin
    One thing I’m working on and practicing is not wishing away time. While I might want to think ahead to spring and warmer temperatures, I’m appreciating this winter in a different way than winters past.

    While the dark days of January are always hard for me to take, and February has been cold as heck, the lengthening of daylight has been welcomed, and I try to get out around 5:00 to 5:30 each day I’m home now, puttering around the wood pile, widening a winter path, and just enjoying that extra light that wasn’t available 6 weeks ago.

    Happy snowshoeing, too!

  3. I’m enjoying your winter blog stories. Shoveling, pushing snow…it’s great exercise. That superbowl commercial, where there is a man or woman dragging a giant tire…I thought, what a waste of time to drive to a gym and strap yourself up to a giant tire when you could just shovel your driveway! Robin, weren’t you going to write about how to improve your physical condition in your own back yard? I’ve thought about that from time to time as I’ve snowshoed in circles in my back yard or along the river trail.

    I think this is the blog post that better explains “Winter Carnival King of ’51” and his shoveling prowess:


  4. @JAB
    Thanks! It is true, the winter, traditionally a time when people tend to exercise less, actually offers a host of physical activities–these include those you mention.

    Thanks for including the link to the WCK of ’51’s refusal to go the snow blower route.

  5. After many years away, it’s funny how what’s distinctive about Maine winter is the sun. Northern Europe disappears under clouds for months at a time, it’s dark to begin with because most of it is even further north than Maine (there’s a reason Maine is “down” east), and it just sucks the life out of you. My last winters in Maine, though, I was out every day in the sunshine, and if the wind isn’t blowing, you can build up quite a sweat pretty quickly.

    There’s an image from an old TV show. The western settler lost his wife to snakebite when he got to the mountains. Now it’s winter, he’s holed up in his little rough cabin, weathering it out. Suddenly, he has to get out, has to escape. He opens the door, and is completely snowed in, drifts have completely buried the cabin. He starts thrashing, clawing, digging, and suddenly bursts through into bright sunshine, breathing deeply, alive.

    You must be feeling something like that right about now.

  6. @LP
    Last winter really sucked for me. I was determined not to have a repeat. Getting out in the diminished daylight is tough in early January, but I did the best I could. Back before all the snow hit late in the month, I’d often run west on Route 9, directly into the setting sun–it felt really good to do that!

    Once the snow hit, shoveling, as well as gathering wood, and feeding my ever-present chickadees gets me out into the light enough so that I haven’t had the winter “blues” this year. There’s even a patch of grass poking through on the walkway, a sign of things to come!

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