So fellow travelers, this morning I came across a phenomenal photo and poem posted by Jon Katz on his Bedlam Farm Blog. Jon is the founder, mentor and “grand poohbah” of the Creative Group at Bedlam Farm, which I reference here frequently. If you want to know more about us, look it up on Facebook. Our posts are open for public viewing but not commentary; that’s how the admins keeps the negativity out, the positive inspiration flowing and the ministry of encouragement thriving.
He posted the photo on the CGBF page first and it has generated an inspiring chain of responses from my fellow members reflecting the rich diversity within our group. Soon after, I came across his blog entry with the added poem. The one-two impact of the combined photo and poem kick started something deep within me.
It’s no secret this has been one hell of a winter. It started out deceptively benign. Back in January Syracuse actually set a record for the longest consecutive days without measurable snowfall. For a city that routinely wins the Golden Snowball (a friendly competition between cities in Upstate New York for the highest seasonal snowfall total) that is an unusual statistic. To be honest, given Buffalo’s unprecedented “Lake Effect” event back in November, which dumped between five to seven feet of snow over several days in a small area just east of the city limits we were more than happy to concede this year’s award before the season had even begun. No one in CNY was eager to catch up to that kind of snowfall total, even spread out over the an entire season.
Somehow Old Man Winter didn’t get that memo, because sometime during the last week in January it started snowing …. daily …. everyday ….. for twenty three straight days along with record cold. (I put in the link to verify the data) For the first time in twenty-eight years the dog(s) and I were snowed in.
I live on a busy road, hazardous to walk on at anytime but rendered too dangerous in winter when the shoulder disappears under snowplow created snowbanks several feet high. So, to get to the area where I walk, I cut through my kind and tolerant neighbor’s backyard. Every year there is a point where I have to clear several paths from our deck to the dogs’ yard, the bird feeders and across my yard to the street beyond. I wrote about this last year when we were snowed in for a few days during the 2014 Winter Olympics.
This year it was all I could do to keep clearing the paths to the dogyard, bird feeders and my pond ( I have to keep the aerator clear of snow)
At times I shoveled two or three times a day, each round taking well over half an hour. The path through the backyard was lost within a week and remains completely buried. Unfortunately so are all the walking paths in the local parks within reasonable driving distance, not that either our or the foster dogs were anxious to stay out long during February’s record setting subzero cold snap.
This past week we did finally break into double digits ABOVE zero with one or two days just at or slightly above the magic 32° F mark. The snowpack however is both deep and dense even as Lake Ontario so generously continues to add here and there to the totals. Just ten minutes of attempting to expand the trails out back ended in a half hour stretched out on a yoga mat with an ice pack tucked under my back.
Jon’s poem about sadness and the accompanying photo of the abandoned house in the snow set loose a roaring reaction. I realized just how depressed and trapped I had been feeling. “Enough is enough,” I said to a startled Delilah seated on the couch next to me. I snapped my laptop shut, threw on snowpants, laced up my heavy duty snowhikers and headed with fierce determination to the back yard.
Recent deer tracks among the many critter trails leading too and from the large bird feeder near my pond gave me an idea for finding a way out of the backyard.
Using the broad footprint of my snowhikers and the shovel for support, I started plowing my way across the back yard from the pre-shoveled bird feeder path, along the deer trail towards my neighbor’s fence line.
I knew I would have to shovel at some point but at first it was less strenuous to simply stomp through the snow. I took frequent breaks, sipping water to stay hydrated. It didn’t take long for me to shed my down vest. About midway through the yard I hit snow up to my knees. At that point I began shoveling the top few feet and then stomping down the remaining snow.
Looking at the depth of the deer tracks it hit me just how long those nimble legs really are.
I made slow but steady progress until I hit the corner where our neighbor’s yard meets ours. One step forward and I was in snow up to my hips! Using the shovel for leverage I struggled out of the snow pit onto the path I had created behind me. Looking at the snow drifted up against his fence I knew this section was likely to be deep for quite a ways, if not all the way to his driveway. I stuck the shovel in handle a few feet beyond where I had sunk into the snow to check the depth.
Soooo close, yet so far.
Since Daylight Savings Time kicked in last night I guess it will now stay light long enough after work for me to drive to a park where the running trails are cleared and get in a decent walk before dark.
DAMMIT Winter you win.
But I swear only just this year. I’m investing in snowshoes for next winter.
My trusty winter hiking boots with a set of EMS stabl-icers courtesy of my fantastic CGBF sister Kate Rantilla.
Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.