Archives for posts with tag: snow day!

I woke up to snowfall this morning. That wasn’t much of a surprise, honestly; weather forecasting has gotten pretty good over the years, as data sets build in size over generations of meteorological expertise also accumulated. Even in weather forecasting, incremental improvements over time are a thing. 🙂

My first look at winter storm “Maya”, before dawn. 

Rather a lot of snow for this area. Rather peculiarly late in the year, being, already, mid-February. I sip my coffee, which turned out rather poorly for some reason, and consider Winter. I think of my Traveling Partner, who headed out yesterday, late in the afternoon, to head south for a gig, and to pick up more of his stuff to continue the moving home process (almost completed). I missed him, some, within minutes of his departure, but also enjoyed the quiet, after a very busy week of moving things in, moving things around, and getting caught up and settled in together in shared living space long-term. It was a pleasant and deeply connected week. I sit for some minutes, reflecting on love, loving, and being loved.

This morning, the world quieted by a blanket of snow, alone with my coffee, I miss him much more.

I had made brunch plans with a friend, for this morning…lol.

…Doesn’t look like I’m going to brunch. Thanks, no, I’m good here at home. lol

Oh, I know, this “isn’t that much snow”. It’s only 4 inches or so, and lots of places in this country that wouldn’t even slow folks down. I get it. People here aren’t used to it, and they drive exactly as though they aren’t used to it; they don’t have the right skills (or gear) for these conditions, making driving doubly hazardous. The communities, by and large, at least in this metro area, also don’t do shit to clear the snow and ice from the roads, they just let it sit there until it is gone, mostly… which… yeah. Wtf? lol I don’t know. Not my circus, not my monkeys. What I do know is that it was a wise choice to do the grocery shopping yesterday, and to bring my laptop home with me from the office, Thursday after work. I’m well-prepared, even if I am stuck here for days.

I over think a detail, and step through the house turning faucets to drip very slowly, hoping to prevent any pipes from freezing. I don’t need that headache, for sure, and it is quite cold. 🙂

Daybreak unfolds, and the sky lightens. I notice small birds here and there, and get up to put out bird seed, peanuts, and dry corn, for my furred and feathered neighbors. Within a handful of minutes, it looks like a forest-creature version of Hometown Buffet on my deck. I sit with my coffee awhile, delighted with their presence, and pleased with my forethought while I was shopping yesterday.

Minutes later, visitors still coming and going, lots of kinds of tracks in the fresh snow.

Winter comes when it comes. It’s like a lot of things in life that may take us by surprise. We can be prepared for so much. Sometimes, we won’t be. Planning helps with that. Being aware of conditions is also a step toward wisdom, generally. Being willing to “take care of” a future we can’t see, with our choices in the moment, can definitely have the potential to turn disaster to mere circumstance, of little consequence. It’s not easy, though; there’s no map. No clear timeline of all the shit that could go wrong in life. Things change – and change again. All of this also applies to great good fortune, and circumstances that are wholly positive, and also characterized by change and upheaval. What are you going to do about it? Prepare skillfully, or just take that wild ride hoping for the best?

Last summer I bought de-icer for the driveway, even though I didn’t know if I would need it. On February 1st, I noticed it there, and found myself amused, because it really seemed, just then, a complete waste of money. 8 days later, snow everywhere, I’m pretty appreciative to have it; I’m likely going to need it. Same with the winter-strength washer fluid I put in the car. The upgraded all-weather tires, replaced in October, too – all part of preparing for a winter that seemed not to come, after all… until last night. I’m just saying; look ahead in life, as far as you are able. Go ahead and make room in your experience (and your budget) to take steps that will ease you into positive outcomes. Why not?

Winter comes when it comes. This is a metaphor.

Even when I haven’t had the financial resources to put a lot of money into such planning ahead, the reality is that there are not only helpful other things one can do, it’s also helpful simply to prepare my mind for those potential events. I don’t mean to suggest endlessly agonizing over shit that hasn’t happened, but could, getting all hung up and anxious over the future, which doesn’t exist yet outside our thoughts. Not at all. I’m suggesting simply allowing yourself to consider things, evaluate their likelihood, and be mentally (and where possible, logistically) prepared for the most likely of those.

The pay off in taking care of myself, both right here and now, and also looking ahead to support my needs over time, is that, this morning I am sipping hot coffee, warm, dry, and comfortable, with a well-stocked pantry, plenty of books to read, and a day ahead of me to enjoy at leisure. (I’m suddenly feeling, also, alarmingly privileged to be so well-supported by my planning – but also by my circumstances; I am fortunate, and yeah, that does matter, too. I take time to quietly contemplate what I can do, from right here, to help others who may not be so well situated on a cold winter day, instead of sitting on my ass contentedly enjoying gas heat, and a snow day. It’s a small world, and a smaller community, and we’re all in this together.)

My coffee is gone. The birdseed has been picked clean from the deck. It is daylight, and I hear an occasional car brave the steep hill of the road I live on. A new day starts here. 🙂

 

Winter finally attempted to prove some point, yesterday, with a bit of snow, and a lot of cold. The furnace ran most of the day. The roads were icy. I worked from home.

It’s not a lot of snow, it is, however, more ice than it appears to be. I chose safety.

I have recollections that there was some past point at which an ex, with whom both my Traveling Partner and I had cohabited with (together), had chronically complained how difficult it was to work from home, when he was also at home. I do not find it so, and the day passed well and productively. It was pleasant to make conversation over a break, and to finish the day in the company of someone so dear to me. It was a quiet day. Have I grown? Has he? Are we different people than we were then?

An afternoon visitor on a snowy day.

Actually, those aren’t even hard questions. Sure, we’ve both grown. Both worked through some individual baggage and bullshit. We’re different people than we were, because we have grown. That growth, chosen or forced on us by circumstances, isn’t the whole of the matter, though; we’ve also made room in our hearts and our awareness to acknowledge both our own growth, and our partner’s growth, too. We didn’t just become different people than we each were, we also accept, appreciate, and acknowledge those changes. We enjoy each other now, every bit as much as we enjoyed each other when we met – in some cases for new reasons. Love evolves. Love deepens.

We take time with getting more deeply re-acquainted. Listening to each other talk. Connecting, sharing, and discussing the past and the future – and just loving each other. We spent happy minutes discussing a bird on the deck I didn’t recall seeing before. We cook for each other. Tidy up together. It feels good.

It’ll be days, even weeks of settling in together, sorting things out, moving things around, adding things, removing things, changing things that may suit one or the other of us, but that don’t suit us both, together, in a similarly pleasing way. It’ll be months of talking, planning, sharing, experiencing – and yeah, more growing. We are not nouns, to paraphrase R. Buckminster Fuller.

Here it is, already morning again, already a new day queued up, ready to be lived. So many choices to make, so many moments to experience. It’s hard to contemplate getting in the car to drive in to the office, but it looks pretty do-able, so… yeah. lol Another day. Another beginning. 🙂

 

It snowed enough night before last to set the record straight on winter in my area; it’s a thing, and it means business! I worked from home yesterday, and will do so again today. I’m grateful I have that opportunity. The unsteady, swerve-y tracks in the snow report that at least one of my neighbors is not so fortunate. Some people make the choice to brave the poor driving conditions. Some people have to. Some people think they have to. Some people just do.

Eerie pre-dawn sky, on a snowy day.

Eerie pre-dawn sky, on a snowy day.

I had worked out a strategy with coworkers. We planned how to handle the inclement weather together, in advance. It was efficiently done. We’ll do it again that way today, figuring since it worked yesterday, it will therefore work today. As reasoning goes, it’s not the best, but we’re starting there nonetheless. The days in question are different in small ways already… Yesterday, I woke at 4, before my alarm went off. This morning, my alarm drags me from a deep sleep with considerable reluctance, groggy, and struggling to wake. Yesterday, there was no question this was necessary, from the moment the day begin. Today, although our plan seems likely to be well-chosen, I didn’t cross the city personally, yesterday, and don’t realistically know what it might be like to cross it today. The portion of guesswork is larger, although I suspect I will have chosen wisely… It’s hard to be  sure so early. Yesterday, my morning flowed smoothly although I wasn’t set up in advance. This morning, I am completely set up, but I stumble, often. I am having my own experience, and it varies. There’s probably a metaphor buried in all that snow.

I sip my coffee. Some things don’t change. lol

Today is a good day to approach each task with as much care as I did yesterday. Today is a good day to work efficiently, and to take care of this fragile vessel along the way. Today is a good day to give myself my undivided attention, at least now and then. Today is a good day to practice.

I woke to the alarm, and fell asleep again. It was a delicious extra four minutes of surrender, followed by the stern advisement from somewhere watchful in my consciousness that the alarm had actually gone off, enough to wake me. The world beyond the patio window is not-quite-blanketed in white. Yesterday’s evening snowfall is still with us. The parking lot is smooth, white, and icy. Checking the weather report and the public transit schedule confirms my choice to work from home is a good call.

My first peek at the new day.

My first peek at the new day.

My morning suddenly shifts, slows down, and my priorities adjust, as I wake up more. I’m working from home today. I gain 2.5 hours back in my day (usually spent commuting) and prevent the loss of 2.5 additional hours I’d have lost to the inclement weather (last night’s commute home was 2.5 hours, itself, instead of the usual 1.25 hours). I’m not even bitching – the walk through the snowy night was lovely, and the commuters on the light rail were fairly merry in spite of circumstances.

A hazy skyline on a snowy night.

A hazy skyline on a snowy night.

I smile in the darkness. I opened the patio blinds first thing to gaze out across the snowy meadow. The only light in the room now is the glow of the laptop monitor; I have not yet turned on any lights, even making my coffee in the dim twilight of a pre-dawn snowy morning. This moment is mine. Well…mine, and of course, yours, and even that of the raccoon who visited during the night, to check for treats left behind by the squirrel and the birds.

We are each having our own experience. Perspective matters.

We are each having our own experience. Perspective matters.

I sip my coffee thinking about the weather. I let my mind wander to “snow days” of childhood. We rarely stayed entirely home from school, but often school would start later. I lived in a different region. It snowed more often, and there was more, deeper (also dryer, fluffier) snow; people are more prepared for snow there, too, and this makes a difference to how well they cope, and how serious it seems. Here, in this community, even a small amount of snow causes real panic. The snow here is sticky, wetter, icy. The tendency toward warmer winter temperatures, generally, often results in brief warming sufficient to melt some snow, then refreezing everything as the temperature drops again (often with both changes happening during the same night). The result? We wake to a world glazed in ice. I have seen this entire city coated with an icy shine, every surface, every blade of grass, every branch, every lingering blossom. I have heard the somewhat bizarre and musical crackling and crinkling as every icy surface begins to fracture with the slightest breeze. It is a wonderland… a rather dangerous wonderland, actually, and people who live here often just call out from work rather than deal with risking their cars or their safety, and schools basically shut down if there is a flake falling. Last night, the train was crammed with commuters who, in frustration or impatience, or fear, parked their cars in the city somewhere along their commute and finished their trip home on public transportation.

I generally just go about my business regardless. I dress for the weather. I make my way with great care. I put on Yak Tracks, bundle up in my cold weather gear, even wear a winter base layer under my work clothes. This morning, I will work from home… Unless it starts raining, and the snow melts away before my eyes (which could, has, and does happen in this region), in which case I’ll quickly dress and head to the office. I make a point of extending my awareness to include compassion and sympathy for workers who don’t have that option, who will either lose a day’s wages, or have to make their way across the ice, through the traffic, to jobs that will be seriously inconvenienced by the call outs of coworkers. We don’t all have the same choices available to us. We don’t all make the same choices when we do. We are each having our own experience.

It’s about that time… if I were going to the office, I’d be pulling on my boots right now. Wrapping my scarf around my neck. Pulling on my hat, my gloves, and grabbing my hiking staff. Instead, I make a second coffee – it’s still more than an hour before I get started for the day. It’s early yet for squirrels or birds, and I check the feeders, refilling them before visitors of the furred or feathered sort arrive. It’s a snowy day, a tougher one for foraging I expect. I add walnut halves, pecan pieces, and pine nuts to the usual corn kernel-sunflower-peanut mix I put out for the squirrel. The winter suet feeder has a seeded block for winter birds looking for seeds, and another block with meal worms and such for birds looking for something different. The winter seed bell is all black sunflower seeds. The blue jays and red-wing blackbirds aren’t so picky, but many of the small birds seem very particular. I enjoy being a good hostess. 🙂 I set up for the day facing the patio.

Today? It’s a snow day. 🙂 Today is a good day to make the ordinary quite extraordinary. Today is a good day to enjoy the moment I’ve got. I think about winter weather and childhood snow days. I recall being told to bundle up, and to be careful out there. I sip my coffee and wonder how I can bring that same quality of consideration and care to all my relationships – and to the world.

I am at home now, slowly warming up enough for a hot bath to be comfortable, sipping tea, looking forward to clean dry clothes, and catching up on calories and medication.

The only picture all day isn't of anything much; the photos are not the experiences.

The only picture all day isn’t of anything much; the photos are not the experiences.

I hit the trail at mid-morning with my hydration pack and emergency gear carefully checked off, map in a side pocket within easy reach. I felt utterly prepared for the hike ahead of me – new trails to explore, and a good plan for 6 to 8 miles of beautiful forested winter countryside, and considerable solitude along the way. I hopped off the bus with a smile at the trailhead most convenient to both mass transit and miles I had not yet walked. I crossed the street and headed up the trail – which in this case was rather literal, as the trail headed steeply upward, renewing my appreciation for my anti-shock hiking staff. I spotted the first snowflake as I neared the hilltop, and the drizzle carrying it along to the ground was quickly becoming more tiny snow flakes than drizzle. I wasn’t discouraged in the least, and visibility was not particularly impaired, except at a distance. There would be no distant vistas to view today. I walked on.

As I walked I contemplated how very prepared I felt when I departed for my hike – and how little my preparation seemed relevant in the present moment, unplanned snowflakes falling all around me. I considered this other solo journey I am taking – the one we each take, every one of us, through this wilderness territory called life; I am my own cartographer. Another way of saying that is – I don’t actually have a map. Yep. I’m making it up as I go along, aren’t I? Aren’t we all?

I turn the ideas on their heads a few times and consider things I do each time I hike to depart as well prepared as possible for all those many things that may come up along a journey, unplanned. Even the snow – I didn’t expect it, and in that sense I didn’t plan, but I did take my day pack, and checked my emergency gear quite carefully before I left, removing the Deet that isn’t needed in December and adding things that seemed more likely to be necessary for a winter emergency, then checking off my basics: a compact emergency shelter, bivy sack, an emergency blanket, first aid gear, water, fire – and my map. I hadn’t planned for snow – but I had done my best to plan for ‘whatever’ might come up that could find me out in the cold over night, and maybe lost or injured.

I hike solo most of the time, and being prepared is one of those things that is about more than me; my traveling partner relies on me to depart prepared to come home safely. Getting home safely may very well be dependent on preparation handled before I ever leave the house at all – and there’s no way to know in advance if this is the hike on which it will matter that I had my _____. With my injury, my PTSD, and the implied potential limitations of each, and both together, I take my time preparing for new trails. I study maps. I read trip reports by other hikers, and articles from the Forestry or Park service overseeing the area. I outline the route, and study alternate routes and connecting loops that may offer scenic opportunities also worth exploring. I make a plan, and share it with my partner. I pack, inventory my gear, re-pack, try it on for size, and double-check my choices against recent experiences in similar areas – I’ll ask myself what I have overlooked, more than once. I’ll ask friends to share stories of recent camping or hiking outings to glean likely circumstances I may not have considered from my own experience. When I am finally ready to put boots on the ground, I generally feel very well-prepared, and by day’s end sometimes find myself wondering why I ever bother to take some of the things I do – like an emergency shelter. Really? Even hiking a nearby park, wrapped entirely in suburbia? More than once I’ve laughed at myself for being over-prepared.

Some time after noon, the snow flakes had plumped to the fat fluffy sort that splat on impact, my glasses were no longer helping my vision, and I had removed them. Visibility – with or without my glasses – is about the same forward, as it is looking down at my feet, and the muddy trail beneath my feet is slippery – another opportunity to be very happy to have my hiking staff; I really need it as the trail turns, twists, and heads down hill. This is no time for photographs – and I had already determined some time ago that the wet cold was not ideal for camera or camera phone – I stay focused on the trail, a dark line ahead too muddy for snow to stick to. I stop at a trail crossing, rest a moment, check my map and finish the last of the still-hot coffee in my hydro-flask (another piece of gear to appreciate today). My hands are not cold; my gloves keep them warm and dry. My feet are not cold or wet; I chose my hiking boots with great care and they serve me well. My rain gear keeps most of the rest of me dry, too, but the flakes of wet snow have begun to sting my cold face, and I think of gear I don’t yet have that would do nicely right then, and even consider whether I am prepared, at any point, to admit I can’t proceed and take shelter. I breathe the winter air deeply and smile; if I need to set up an emergency shelter, I’m ready for that, too. I walk on.

I stood some wet tedious minutes waiting for the bus that would take me out of the woods. I exchange messages with my traveling partner so he knows I am safe, and heading home. I keep thinking about life; it’s a hell of a journey to have to take without a map, without ‘all the right gear’, without feeling prepared…without even the certainty that our experience is a shared experience that will be understood in the telling of the tale; we are solo-hiking through life, and we do it without a map, making it up as we go along, and hoping for the best. Hell – sometimes we start the journey without having even a destination in mind at all! It’s no wonder life can be so confusing, so surprising, so difficult sometimes.

The tea has taken the chill off me as I write. I smile, and think about the ‘gear’ I now ‘pack’ on my solo journey through this wilderness, life: mindfulness practices, meditation, a healthy approach to fitness and to food, an understanding of my physical needs day-to-day, and some ideas about what it takes to be the woman I most want to be, like emotional self-sufficiency, critical thinking, perspective, and an understanding that contentment is an excellent stepping stone to happiness, and more sustainable. I still don’t have a map – but this journey isn’t going to take itself, and it’s time to get going; the journey is the destination. The map is not the world. One year ends, another stretches out in front of me, an unexplored trail – it’s time to plan the next hike! 🙂