Limits

More snow.  Although that’s a likely forecast for Maine anytime through April, in the here and now it is a reality, another foot dumping down in snowball-sized hunks, alternating with drifting snow mist, and, at the end, crystals like Ivory Snow flakes, leaving the whole field twinkling in sequins this fine sunny morning.

As nice (and frigid) as the day is, limits have been imposed.  Those living through a real Maine winter (we got off lightly last year) are circumscribed.  We have run out of places to store this water in its solid form, so our lives get limited into small lanes of passage.  I start making a path from the deck to the rabbits – only one shovel width.  So many snows, the trench is hip deep, and that’s not down to the ground, just down to better footing of the hard snow.  Filling the bird feeders is a matter of bending down, not tippy-toes, but the birds are safe because the cats can’t make it through the fluffy medium to get at them.

The world is almost unrecognizable, fences between the rabbit pens obliterated, and the stockade designed to keep the foxes out could be easily leapt by the bunnies, let alone a predator.  But no fox is out hunting in this world of white – it’s too hard going.  Bobbie plowed around six, as light came, and I dig from the deck the other way to the cleared drive, and walk out to free up the barn between two banks higher than my head.

I can dig out the barn doors, and of course they get their grain and hay, but the poor horses have to trample down the paddocks themselves.  It’s slow work, and heavy on the legs.  I tried skiing, but the snow was so deep that within a half-mile I was sweating like a pig and turned for home.  The wharf is completely covered, and I have not bothered to shovel it off, as our attention moves away from the sea in the winter; there’s not much to do there, and the wind goes right through you.

The cats are fighting because there’s nowhere to go even if they do go out.  The rabbits have stopped fighting and just run around their front doors (they love each snow like it was the first, but they still can’t get far either).  In a couple of months, the world will open up, but right now it has closed in on us until we get a thaw. “As the days get longer, the cold gets stronger” is an old saying around here.  In the old days, before Netflix and easy travel, folks had the intestinal fortitude to withstand not only the winter, but the limits on human interaction it imposed.  If some national disaster cut off our power for a long while, we would not only have babies being born nine months later and people dying of cold, but I think we’d be killing each other as well out of sheer circumscription.

We have lost twelve cats to cars, predators, illness and old age since we’ve been here.  Each departure is hard, but this one especially: this morning Gandhi dove out the door and stayed under the deck – as far as we know, it is completely snowed in and we cannot see a thing in there – to leave his body behind.  We feel terribly, because he must have had a kidney infection or some such for a bit, but we took it as winter blues, pickiness on his food, cabin fever with the other cats, and sheer cussedness, in which he had a long trump suit.  Cats go to earth to die alone – it will be my favored way too, if I get the chance – and that’s what he did.  When we realized he had been out too long, and tried to find him, we could not.  By last night, when he hadn’t shown up, we were sure, and let go into grieving.  Ah, Gandhi, we could have been more attentive!

I wrote this at home, but am posting it from UK, where it is 50 degrees (10C) and raining.  Hope they’re doing ok in Maine, as the storms roll over like waves.

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