More Snow

It’s Sunday morning, and I’m still pajama’d. The boys are playing endless video games. Adam, hero of the century, is shoveling. Again. Church has been cancelled today. And this is likely the first of several snow days for a family already feeling rather cabin-feverish!

We’ve all spent more time than usual obsessing about weather forecasts. Here’s what this particular storm – slated to run long from Saturday night into Tuesday morning, looks like:

We're in that very high impact band.
We’re in that very high impact band.

There’s another storm that may be brewing behind it. Following that we are likely to get a historically cold snap, with highs in the single digits.

This is the kind of winter that sets the mark for what winter means and what it is for years to come.

The current scene - we have another 12 - 18 inches coming
The current scene – we have another 12 – 18 inches coming

Last night my neighbors hosted hordes at the Vinterfest. She’s Scandinavian. He’s from New Hampshire. They lit candles, turned off the heat, shoveled the porch to make it one more room for the party, and produced pounds of meatballs, head cheese, remoulade, and other deliciousness. It was a celebration of the winter, an avowal to be unafraid of the cold. We toasted each other in a room made of snow.

For perspective
For perspective – it’s really hard to get good snow pictures

One of the ceremonies of Vinterfest is the eating of the rice pudding. Tobin makes a vast batch of rice pudding, puts one blanched almond in it and passes out cups to the assembled crowd. One person finds that almond and conceals it for as long as they can. I’ve always wanted to be that person, but I never have been… until last night. I came home, late at night, with a crunchy almond taste, a marzipan pig and a year of good luck. Here’s to good luck, and a spring that comes someday!

My good luck token!
My good luck token!

The walls are closing in

So I’m practicing for weekend blog updates. I’m thinking I need to streamline my boot-up procedures a little, and maybe put the writing first.

Anyway, this is the time of year in New England that the walls start closing in on us. Today looks deceptive. The sun is bright and the pathways are clearer than normal, due to quite a thaw last week. One’s mind turns to wild adventures like walking to the library, or taking Grey and Thane somewhere that is not our house. But then one turns to the thermometer.


Yes, that says 0 degrees.

At a certain temperature, even indoor activities not in your own house seem daunting. Does it require taking the T? Parking and walking in? How many layers will you need to pack your toddler in, and how many of those will be appropriate once you’ve arrived in the safety of another heated location? At about 10 degrees, the cars stop keeping up, and are not comfortably warm. Easier just to stay put!

But after a few days or weekends of staying put, you get very bored. Or at least my children do. They both love adventures and outings. It’s one of the guaranteed ways of getting Thane to settle when he’s grumpy. The last weekend of January it’s bad. The last week of February is downright grim. A winter storm in March? Heaven forfend.

I’ll get Grey out in a little bit for aikido, and then he and I are going to a fundraiser for Haiti tonight. Thane is doomed to a pajamas day. Adam’s at aikido right now. There’s church tomorrow — always good to get out for.

Last night I looked out Thane’s window. The moon was exceptionally bright — so bright it threw dark shadows of trees across the pale and blowing old snows. The shadows danced in the frigid wind. I find myself wondering how, before the niceties of blown-in-insulation and central heating, how did humanity survive in these winters? I hesitate to expose my healthy 15 month old to 10 minutes of layered, blanket-wrapped stroller journey. The native tribes who welcomed those first pilgrims had no walls or Goretek or natural gas heating. I know that part of the answer was that they did not all survive the coldest winters. But how miserable must it have been? How would they have longed for the walls which currently encircle me? The sensation of warmth and fullness must both have been so fleeting in winter, and warm spells nearly life-giving in their welcomeness. Meanwhile, I am surprised by the brief visit of chill to my fingers and toes, and consider it entirely optional and to be avoided.

Modernity is a marvelous thing.

Cabin Fever

In my youth, I was heavily influenced by the great, classical writers whose influence will be felt down through the generations. I mean, of course, Erma Bombeck and Patrick McManus. What? You’ve never heard of them? And you call yourself an English major! Erma I’ll leave for another time: suffice it to say everything I know about maternity underwear I learned from her. Patrick McManus is the pinnacle of humorous outdoorsy writers. He wrote about the world in which I lived my youth — a world I left in the dust when I drove across a blazing hot country from my home in the shaded Northwest to arrive at a prestigious and ritzy New England college, dripping in history and “Natty Lite”.

I remember reading “Never Sniff a Gift Fish” in the log cabin my grandparent’s inhabited on the Cedar River, at a Boy Scout camp they ran (Camp Fremont). There were dogs milling about and arcane tools stacked in tubs in the corners. It was chilly and I don’t recall fireworks, which points to a Christmas visit. One of the prizes I unearthed in a back room was a stack of McManus Masterpieces. The great ones were there: “Rubber Legs and White Tail Hairs”, “They Shoot Canoes, Don’t They?” and “The Grasshopper Trap”.

Anyway, one of his brilliant essays talked about Cabin Fever. Go ahead. Go read it. I’ll wait.

Read it? Good.

So Monopoly, fudge and the old “Great Northern Railroad” calendar.

That, folks, is where we’re at here. I’ve been home since Wednesday, when it seemed like a good idea to work from home. Ha! Since then, I think it’s snowed three times? Four times? Yesterday, a day I was willing to venture out, I had to take two passes at getting in to my driveway because I turned the wheel, but the car was disinclined to go that direction. Today it was much worse. For the second time in three weeks we had to cancel church. I was very much looking forward to church. You know, people who don’t beg to play their DS or scream at me because they’ve lost the lid to their very favorite toy: the empty milk jug?

I suspect my mother-in-law is planning a break for it. She keeps talking about “packing bags” and “plane leaves tomorrow at 11, but you could probably drop me off now if that’s more convenient”.

Grey is bored stiff. I don’t blame him. I’m bored stiff too — or possibly that’s a side effect of the shoveling. Did I mention that all of us except Grey is sick with a sniffly cold?

You know the only thing worse than being bored stiff? It’s being bored stiff and not permitted to sit down and read a good novel because someone wants up on the couch. And down off the couch. And up on the couch. And down off the couch. And up on the couch…. and wait! Where is the lid to the milk jug?!?!?

At least Grey is now at an age where he can play in the snow while his father and I shovel. He had fun this afternoon, getting buried in deep drifts, throwing snowballs at passing cars and pretending to be cold. I didn’t take any pictures because I was afraid that no one would recognize the white-haired gnome.

Tomorrow it should be all done. The winter storm will pass. We’ll all head back to work and daycare for the long slog of serious winter. Thane will probably have to go back to the doctor because he’s not better. All the balls that were put down on the ground for a week will be picked back up and tossed into the air. I’ll dye everyone’s hair back to the normal color, and life will go on.

Let’s just hope this is the last of the snow!