Everybody Has a Snow Story

Well, that was a whomper.  Now it’s ten below and I just climbed off the granary roof after clearing the photovoltaic panels using a telescoping scraper borrowed from my neighbor Jeremy (thank you!).  Piles of snow everywhere and a few of our roads still heavily drifted.

We were lucky…our plow truck, a little tractor with a loader (thank you you-know-who) and all Sunday to carve paths where needed.  Also plenty of dry wood in the woodshed, a crooked little Christmas tree glowing in the corner, and my wife as always making profound food appear out of thin air.  Oh, and an insulated coop so this morning the chickens were perky and unaffected by the temps.

Favorite memory from yesterday: Eldest daughter has long been invited to meet the neighbor’s daughter of same age.  With everything canceled yesterday and the neighbor girl and her family stranded at the far end of a socked-in driveway that nears a mile in length, daughter and I bundled up, put on snowshoes, and trekked cross-country (roughly a mile-and-a-half) and over the wind-carved expanses, then down through a snow-daubed pine grove to the neighbor’s house.  I hiked home to continue plowing.  By 7 p.m. the temperature had dropped to 4 degrees and the neighbors were still not plowed out (the snow was so drift-packed my pickup plow wouldn’t bust it, and our tractor scoop is no match for a driveway that long).  So I dressed for the temperatures, put on a pair of cross-country skis, and my wife helped me lash my daughter’s skis and poles to a backpack and I set out again, this time in the dark.  With those temps and relatively strong wind, I was concerned about my daughter making the trip home.  But we took the time to dress right, with good layers and neck and ankle gaiters, and off we went.

We had headlamps, but we switched them off for most of the trip, as the sky was so starry and clear and the snow so dominant that the fingernail of moon lit the night so well we were casting crisp shadows.

She was a trouper.  Not only uncomplaining about the cold but chattering about how much she enjoyed her visit, and stopping to pick out Orion’s belt.  I cheated at the end, fishing out my cell phone and calling home so my wife could see our headlamps bobbing along the homestretch.  She waved from the window.

I am by nature often a grumpy self-involved cuss.  I worry sometimes about how my daughter will remember me.  But I hope she reads this some day and knows how proud I was of how she just strapped those skis on and pushed off into the single-digit wind like it was the most natural thing in the world, and how – after listening to her talk and pick out stars and never break stride – when I bid her goodnight I was filled with a warmth that had nothing to do with that old woodstove of ours.

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