I finally couldn’t stand it any longer. With temperatures above 50℉ the past two days, it was time to get into the garden. I needed some of the wire cages to protect the tulips poking up through mud, before the does destroyed them. The cages were stored in the back shed, so I had to brave a snow field to get to them.
The first few steps were easy: snow crusty enough to hold my weight. Then I punched through. Little Wren danced around on top of the crust the whole time. So did Topaz. It was a long way to the shed and it was rough on my knees and my back. I found a shorter way out, after dropping the cages over the back fence where I could get to them easily from outside. Then I crawled over the crust for twenty feet til I got up next to the raised beds, where reflected heat had melted a narrow path. It was fun, crawling over the snow, and doubled as icing on my knees.
I’m grateful for where I live, and for neighbors who share certain values that reflect an understanding of our interdependence. We don’t agree on everything, and some of us barely agree on anything, but we do share a love of the land on which we live, and a willingness to help each other out when what we can offer is needed. Big thanks to neighbor Joe for all the plowing he’s done this winter, and for pulling my car out of the snowbank with his tractor this afternoon.
It’s possible that there is someone in the neighborhood who didn’t look outside this evening and marvel at the truly astonishing colors that permeated everything from sky to snow to winter junipers. But it’s not likely. One of the values we share is a reverence for the beauty of the place we live.
I’m grateful today for sunshine! The past two days have been gloriously springlike. Now that I’ve stopped the ice melting into the mudroom, it was time for me to get stuck in the driveway. We didn’t even have much snow, just ferocious wind for a whole day, and forty acres of snow blew over the banks and across my driveway.
I should have backed up the second I saw drifts, but it didn’t look too bad so I tried to punch through. A short way up I realized I’d never make it to the top, so I backed carefully down. But not carefully enough. Once the drifts gave out I was moving too fast and slid into a plowed bank. I left it and walked home for lunch. I’m grateful that it only took a text to a neighbor to get the drifts plowed–I figured once the drive was passable I could dig myself out and forge ahead.
He wasn’t able to plow til evening, and I was happy to wait til this morning to dig out. I was grateful to have the right tools for the job again. But sometimes even the right tools aren’t enough. An hour’s work with shovels, cardboard, and kitty litter, and I was a few inches deeper into the snowbank. I’m grateful for neighbors with tractors, trucks, and chains, and know someone will pull the car out eventually. Maybe tomorrow! I’m grateful for patience and good cheer.
I’m grateful for YouTube where I found a great hack for scanning old slides, which I took some time to do today. I simply held each slide up to the bright white screen of my laptop and took a picture with my phone. Not perfect, but not bad, considering they’re sixty years old or so. I’m grateful for the memories conjured by these old slides, and feelings of tenderness for my family.
Above, the little children are in Italy, I’m pretty sure, and below I think we’re in Holland, because that was my mother’s note on the envelope: slides – Holland, etc.
Full circle back to snow, here I am with mommy and likely my first snow. Who’d ever have imagined this little tyke would grow up to rely on snow so directly, deal with it so intimately, and be so sanguine about leaving her car stuck in it for days. I’m grateful for the practice that allows me to hold with equanimity and love all the feelings I’m having today.
I’m also having some feelings about Covid, which are clarified by this excerpt from Eric Topol’s newsletter today:
“First, we sit at a very high baseline of daily Covid hospitalizations and deaths in the United States, over 25,000 and about 400, respectively. This is far beyond (double) where we were in June 2021, pre-Delta, when we got down to close to 10,000 hospitalizations and ~200 deaths per day. There’s still circulating virus (currently XBB.1.5) getting people infected and some of the folks of advanced age and immunocompromised are the ones chiefly winding up with severe Covid. The virus is finding the vulnerable people more easily since their guard is let down, abandoning high-quality masks and other mitigations, and the low rate of keeping up with boosters in the last 6 months (the age 65+ rate is 40%). There are about 15% of Americans (more than what many people think or have been led to believe), based on all the serologic data available, who never had Covid and are relying on their vaccines/boosters to avoid their first infection. Reinfections among the 85% with prior Covid are not uncommon and not necessarily benign. No less, the pervasive attitude is the pandemic is over, life goes on. That’s helping the virus find new or repeat hosts.”
Two more views of the virgin snow the other day, followed by the plowed driveway today. So grateful for friendly bartering for services and goods in the neighborhood.
Grateful for warmth, color, and comfort inside, as I’m grateful for winter water outside. Grateful as always for a roof over our heads. And grateful for a sweet summery puzzle to do on these dark days, a rainbow of color and texture. Grateful to be alive, and have meaningful work teaching, and have a quiet weekend.
I’ll be teaching the Introduction to Mindfulness course live on zoom starting March 2, from 2-3 pm Mountain Time, only $50 per person for the four-week class. Get it while this price lasts, as I realize I can’t sustain it and will have to raise it some. Check it out and register here.
It’s been a crazy couple of days of winter here, as it has in much of the country. I’m grateful when I wake on a morning like yesterday or today just to have a roof over my head, and a woodstove I can load with fuel to warm the house. And grateful for the luxuries of coffee, cinnamon rolls, and indoor plants. Snow blew so hard yesterday it stuck to windows it still hasn’t melted from.
The driveway drifted in dramatic waves so deep that I couldn’t make it past the trees in my boots, as it was still blowing and I hadn’t worn a scarf, and Wren was too short to get through the drifts once we passed the first few. I’m grateful as always for kind neighbors, and the feeling of connection that comes from knowing they’re just beyond the sea of snow if I need them.
It’s a little embarrassing for me to admit how dependent I’ve become on the internet. It’s been off and on here for two days, and Rise Broadband reports that they know there’s a problem and expect it will be resolved by Monday at six pm. Another two days! Oh well. First world problems. I’m grateful for the internet and for how it allows me to connect with you, with the drag queens of the world, weather forecasts, and so much more, including the platforms I’m using these days for work. If I have to spend some hours without it now and then I suppose I have enough to keep me occupied!
I admit it would be easier to go without internet if it weren’t deep winter. In summer, I could at least bundle up and sit outside under the stars if I can’t watch Drag Race or Modern Family. It’s just too cold now. Lows overnight in the single to minus digits, and highs during the day often not breaking freezing. So even during the day, if I can’t work online, I can’t spend much time outside. The tiny dog loves the snow but too much time in it gives her a reverse-sneeze seizure and she runs to me to pick her up, then shivers mightily until I bring her inside. A sweater isn’t much help in the teens, or in snow deeper than herself, and booties are out of the question. I’m grateful I have a little treadmill inside where I can walk up my heart rate and exercise my lungs.
I’m grateful for the moisture the snow is bringing to our ground and to the mountains where we keep our water until we need it in summer. I’m grateful for the mild does who hang out during the day. Grateful for my solid little house, and for the garden in winter.
Sometimes I’m even grateful for the ‘memories’ that pop up in Photos unbidden. When I opened the program this evening this image from 2018 showed up, with Stellar and Raven on a trail up above Lost Lake that autumn. I love how the yellow aspen leaves ornament the deep evergreen boughs and the path, the bright white of the aspen trunks, and the cherished images of my dear departed catahoulas. I imagine that trail is under six or eight feet of snow at the moment. I’m grateful for perspective.
It was too hard to not add another image in the missing mountains series. We got another eight inches of snow overnight and it kept falling off and on all day. This was the view this morning. All day long there were big and little puffs of scattering crystals as loaded tree boughs dropped their snow. There was a hint of sunshine just as it set but I never did see the far side of the canyon today. I’m grateful for community: knowing there are friends across the field, up the driveway, through the woods, and down the road, being able to text or talk with them, offer comfort or conversation, receive assistance. Even in this silent isolation we are all connected. Let us pray, though, for sunshine tomorrow!
I woke to this mystery: Where are the mountains? Obscured by clouds. Just as my core values, my solid foundation, can sometimes be obscured by clouds of emotions, ruminations, or fears. But it’s good to know they are still there, to be revealed again when the clouds lift.
I also woke to this lovely little puzzle which I assembled on my desk yesterday while listening to a number of talks online. Monet’s Sailboat at Le Petit-Gennevilliers, a simple 9×12 Liberty with only 272 pieces. It was an easy, meditative thing to do with my eyes and hands as I deepened my understanding of trauma, and how mindfulness, sleep, family systems, and evolution among other things, relate to it. This puzzle seemed to be about 40% whimsy pieces, a high ratio, and they were so delightful.
Lots of fish and other sea creatures, and lots of seagulls, feathers, clouds, and sailboats. This one practically fell together despite the tricky colors, whose grays and blues were reflected not only in the water here, but also in the sky today as I disassembled the puzzle.
The mountains did reappear briefly between snow squalls this afternoon. By bedtime almost a foot of soft, light snow has fallen. I’m grateful for this abundant replenishment for our mountain aquifer, and for the moisture that will melt into my own little garden. Just yesterday I noticed the first tiny threads of crocus leaves peeking up from the soil. I’m grateful for making friends with impermanence, knowing that in another day the sun will shine again on our valley, that this much-needed snow will nurture wildflowers, wildlife, crops, and our own bodies as winter thaws into spring, spring into summer.
I’m grateful for this crazy good cauliflower recipe, and to Pamela for sharing her white miso. For some reason we can’t get white miso around here, but she had enough in her freezer to share. The cauliflower is supposed to be grilled with this simple marinade of ketchup, soy sauce, hot sauce, and melted butter, but I roasted it instead. Then you mix a simple miso-mayo dressing with lemon juice. It was so simple, SO delicious.
I’m grateful the driveway didn’t drift so deeply this time, and for the beautiful beach-like pattern of the drifts; grateful to run into my neighbor skiing uphill when I took Wren out to walk, and for the cardio-respiratory exercise I got keeping up with her. Grateful for good friends as neighbors!