My dour mood of the last few days has been completely dispelled by the weather – God and a classic no’theaster (go ahead, reveal your ignorance in your attempt to be chummy and ethnic: say “nor’easter” – even weathermen do it.  But no Down Easter with salt in his mittens would elide the ‘th’ – it’s the ‘r’ that goes) dumped a foot of snow on us, erasing the depressing frozen ground with a blanket of white. Most of it fell during our party, lopping guests off left and right, but those who could come stomped their boots and made a joyful noise to see out this rueful decade.

In the morning, after the basic dig-out and pulling the plow guy out of a rut with our 4-wheel drive pick-up, and despite all that must be done, I strapped on my old cross-countries and set about the woods.  Over the couple of days of the storm, we had all the Eskimos words for snow, from big fat conglomerated flakes to the mica-like glistening shards to ice pellets.  As I start across the pond the sky is leaden and the air still and light with tiny crystals.  The skiffer-nick of the skis is all I can hear until I round a corner and there are some ice fishermen chopping holes in the pond and setting up the odd bent flags that will leap up if they have a bite.

By the beaver’s home mound – its aerodynamics smoothed by the snow – is a path into the alders that leads up the steep hill (alternate sideways lifting or herringbone) into a pine forest. The turkeys, a daily site under the bird feeder at home, fat and happy and stupid with iridescent wings and a strange little feather-beard on their chests I hadn’t noticed before, leave tracks everywhere in the woods, and occasionally a bird or two goes off like a Gatling gun from the nearby underbrush, startling me every time as they make for a high branch nearby.

Into the pine woods at the ridge and right at this point the wind comes up and suddenly I am in a snowstorm.  Not that the snow is falling from the sky much, but that all the snow laid carefully on the branches one flake at a time is now whirled away by the wind into those wraiths and ghosts slipping between the trees.  Blinded in the thick snow, I plunge on through the green needles until I cross the stone wall – just a tumular line beneath the snow – onto the Goodyear farm.  I stop to rest in the lee of the barn – no one’s here this winter – and lie back to watch and feel the snow gather on my face.  Tom Rush’s No Regrets, an old favorite, is playing in my ears, and I allow myself to swell with the strings and thrill to Bruce Langhorn’s guitar.  The old songs are the best songs, though John Mayer is working hard at making some old songs – Your Body is a Wonderland.  And Alicia Keys is simply timeless from the beginning.  Even Beyoncé is beginning to win me over.

And so it feels as I stretch my legs across the field, almost skating slightly downhill off the ridge now, and then really downhill with the stream toward the river, upended a few times – the skis are not very maneuverable in the woods, and I sometimes have to throw myself down to avoid rocks, trees, or getting very wet.  Laughing out loud to myself, I skirt the crinkly gullies near the water, looking for the few animal tracks in the new snow to guide me.  As I finally find the flat at the bottom of the hill, with the exit to the pond written in alders, I can see a flock of Canada geese plucking the shallows, but the crows alert them to me, and they swim out a little to join the ducks until I pass.

I negotiate the edge of the dam and through one more patch of woods and fields back to our pier.  No one is using it today – snowy January Sunday- but they’ll be back tomorrow, so I doff the skis and shoulder a shovel, tipping pack after pack of snow and ice off into the frigid water, where it floats without dissolving.  A path is enough on the pier itself, but I clear the floats thoroughly, trying to get the weight off them as they are sitting too deep and it won’t do them any good.  The air off the water is wet – up on the hill is was dry and cold, here it is wet and spitting ice, and I wish I had done this job earlier before the snow got so heavy.

Once you get shoveling, though, it’s hard to stop, so the night gathered around me before I stopped, pleasantly tired, but ready for the week, ready for the next storm in whatever medium it chooses to come.


One Response to “Storm”

  1. Michelle Bellerose Says:

    You speak eloquently to a key vector of healing…”My dour mood of the last few days has been completely dispelled by the weather… ”

    We need our mirroring agents, viz the pathetic fallacies of literature (no pejor intended), Hering’s law of cure, the compulsive drama play with introverted forces of self that require external projective surfaces for our viewing pleasure, to give but a few quick examples…

    Illness, or more simply distress, results from lack of self-confrontation, not chance circumstance. The reluctance (or inability) to accept that even in the slings and arrows of forces beyond our control we’re only ever experiencing our deeper self is the par excellence barrier to integration. Internal factors writ plain for truth show up via externalizing symptoms of flesh, skews on operating persona that lead to less effective or fractured behaviour, but also via the conditions and features of our habitat, its weather patterns and other random encounters with our surrounds and the larger the world in all its seemingly impersonal transactions, these too give valuable and often neglected biofeedback as to the condition of our own disowned contents.

    Terrific writing.

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