While I no longer make New Year’s Resolutions, I’m determined to Shovel Less and Ski More.
With two snowfalls this week, so far, so good.
I woke up to snow on Sunday and shoveled as the sun rose over the clean landscape, turning the sky pink. With the shoveling done, I skied across the pasture we share with three neighbors. With just about four inches on the ground, it was easy to break trail.
Yesterday’s snowfall was even better. I woke to two inches already down and more falling.
I shoveled twice before stepping into my skis and breaking trail through deep powder, which was hard. With the snow still coming down, I shoveled a third time. It’s not just that I wanted to stay ahead of the snow; I also didn’t want to go in.
It snowed all day; by ten last night, ten inches muffled the world.
I like shoveling snow, especially when it’s light and easy to move; when it’s like wet cement, not so much. Shoveling gets me outside. But it’s not the only way I want to be out in the winter.
Over the years, Tim and I have taken measures to reduce the amount we have to shovel. When we replaced the leaking, cedar shingle roof with a standing seam steel one, we changed the rooflines to accommodate a covered walkway and woodshed to the back door. Not only has this reduced shoveling to the back door, it’s eliminated shoveling to the front door entirely. The path to the front door is buried as soon as the first snow slides off the roof with a whump, so we close this entrance for the season. The added advantage of this system is that it funnels everyone into the mudroom, where they can shed their winter coats and boots.
Even though I like being outdoors, I sometimes – perversely – don’t make it outside enough. It’s easy to sit at my desk too long – longer than I can be productive – which can trigger a cascade of discontent. So I need to get outdoors, but I can’t depend only on shoveling snow to get me outside. Besides, there’s more to life than work and chores. I love winter for its many opportunities for play.
With no lawn to mow, no weeds to pull, no fruit to harvest, and only the laying flock to tend, wintertime is playtime. Aside from shoveling snow and feeding the fire, there’s not a whole lot to do but play, especially when the snow flies. When conditions allow, we skate on lakes and ponds until it snows. Once it snows, we ski, snowshoe, and stargaze right out the back door.
Winter is the reward for all the work of tending the garden, stacking the firewood and putting food by. Winter allows for outdoor play followed by long nights of socializing, reading, and rest.
Just last week, I found my way back to the piano, which I’ve been avoiding for more than a decade. Something’s shifted this time. Instead of making practicing yet another chore, this time, I’m just sitting down to play.
Back to Work
This morning, I took the long way to work. Instead of walking my usual, sixty-second commute from the back door to my studio, I skied twice around the field in the tracks I set yesterday. Between the cold air, bright sun, and endorphin release, I arrived at my desk happy and ready to write.
This is winter, living in place.
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