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Pull up a chair, my tribe, and I’ll tell you a story, of the Before Times, which I rarely speak of – of my life before illness, which was an unusual one by anyone’s standards. It is a bitterly cold night here on the Mountain, 8 degrees and snowy, and gazing at that snow, so incredibly fine due to the very cold air, I see it sparkle in the deck lights, and am reminded of another snowy night, so long ago, almost half a lifetime now…

I remember…
…being a single mom living with my 7 year-old daughter in a very poorly-built log cabin, with no running water, in Ohio. I hadn’t planned to be there on my own… a marriage had recently ended badly, leaving me broken-hearted and financially-ruined. I found myself enrolled in college, learning to be a naturalist or forest ranger by day, and returning home in the evenings to a great deal of responsibility… “living rough” had seemed a fine idea when I was married to someone who people compared to the “Marlboro man,” but it was a daunting prospect for a woman alone…

After a long day of college classes that involved much hiking, near sunset on a bitterly cold Winter evening, I wearily climb the steep hill to the cabin, my daughter at my side. It is cold inside, too – the cabin is heated only by a woodstove, and, being incredibly drafty, requires a constant, roaring, fire, but the fire has been banked all day, down to a slow burn. I pile on wood and get it warming up, then move outside to chores as the daylight fades.

I break the ice in my rain barrels, and tend to my two horses, and feed far too many wolves. With what little energy I have left, I scrape together dinner for my daughter, and try to be there for her. I don’t do a very good job. My situation is overwhelming, is desperate, and I don’t know how I will get through it. I am deeply depressed, but trying not to show it.

But after she is tucked in bed, I pull my boots, coat and warmest gloves back on, and go back out into the biting cold to split wood. I have just used up all the already split wood to warm the house for the evening. Cutting and splitting the wood by myself is a never-ending chore, and I cannot get caught up.

The Moon is full and bright overhead, reflecting off the snow, and I can see my way clearly. I have no outside lights, so I glance up, thankful of the Moon’s brilliance. The snow crunches and squeeks under my boots, as it only does when it is so cold. I struggle to put a snow-covered log up on my chopping block. The splitting maul is lifted and brought down on the log with a well-practiced, if exhausted, stroke, and that moment is when the Magick happens, when everything changes…

The snow and ice on the top of the log suddenly explodes up around me in a powder-fine cloud, and every single flake, every single speck, sparkles in the moonlight with glittering rainbows, as it flies up around me and ever, ever, so slowly falls.

It is as if I have been showered with finely ground diamonds, or fairy dust, each speck shimmering with all the shades of the rainbow – deep blue, purple, scarlet red, fire orange – and the bright white of the Moon as they fall.

It is perhaps the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, and all because we were out of wood on a cold winter night.

I stand there in astonishment, as the cloud of glimmering diamond snowdust settles on and around me, and then gaze up at the bright Moon above me.

If I had needed a sign that even in one’s darkest hour there is Beauty, there is Hope, then I had surely been gifted with one, and I had, indeed, needed just such a sign.

It seems it is a fine and beautiful night for chopping wood after all, and I split enough for several days, laughing like a child as the rainbow-sparkling snowdust falls all around me and the glorious Moon shines down from above.

The memory of the unexpected and breathtaking Beauty of that night is a treasured one, and one I think of often. It holds and sustains me through the dark hours, and helps me find the Beauty, Inspiration, and Hope, to keep going… just as it did then.

The Moon is Magick and Mystery,
yes, and so are many other things.
If we but look,
there are signs and guideposts
all around us, pointing the way…
We have only to open our Hearts and truly See.
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There is clearly a disconnection deep in my brain between what my brain thinks I ought to be able to do, and what I can really do without dire consequences. You would think that by this point in life, after how many years of illness? 12 officially, I guess, that I would have it clearly mapped out. And in some regards, I do.

But then there are times when something clearly has to be done, like, say, for example, putting chains on the X-Terra & attempting to get it out of the driveway, and my brain sees the priority as getting the car out, period.

But crawling around in the snow with it’s delightful layer of ice underneath, digging around & crawling under the car, straining to reach connectors & get them to click, that is quite clearly out of my physical reach anymore. And yet. It needed to be done, Rhiannon was helping put had never put them on before, and it took both our combined efforts to succeed in just getting the bloody things on. The car got out of it’s one stuck position, moved hopefully a little way up the hill, and stopped.

By that time, we’d both had enough. The impossibility of getting the car all the way up the driveway had become more clear in our minds. The snow, especially in the deep ruts, was (and is) just too damn deep. We’d both done a little shoveling, Rhiannon more than I, but she was really hurting from the previous two days shoveling heavy wet snow. To her credit, she did point out everytime I picked up the shovel “Mom, you CAN’T do that.”

But somewhere deep in my mind is this disconnect, between what I used to be able to do & therefore, my mind says, should still be able to do, and what I can really do without paying a heavy, painful, price. Maybe it’s pride, I don’t know. I used to be able to haul around 40# hay bales, and 50# bags of animal feed, dig my own fence post holes, and do damn well anything I wanted to. Back then, it was definitely a matter of pride. I had to be able to do a man’s work as a single-mom farmer-shepherdess. For many years there was no option. And my body, for the most part, was able to toughen up & handle it.

But it clearly can’t anymore, and even a short period of exertion (I doubt we were at it more than an hour) leads to the most excruciating level of pain & fatigue. My back is so tightly in spasm you could use it as a table, albeit a lumpy one. My knee is not at all happy, though it’s hard to say how much of that is weather-related and how much is due to crawling around in the snow & ice (I did have my brace on). Then there’s the migraine, partially from the inflammed trigger points in my shoulders & neck, partially from hormonal swings.

In other words, I’m beyond incapacitated. Loading up with pain meds & anti-inflammatories & muscle relaxers, I hope to pass into a semi-coma state and sleep, as that’s the only relief there is.

And the car is still stuck half-way (maybe more like a third of the way) up the driveway, with sleet & freezing rain on the way. Currently the forecast calls for 40 degrees & rain on Wednesday. It had better be rain, to pack the snow down enough I can get out, or we might be stuck here until the spring thaw sets in.

I really, really should have moved the car when I had the chance, but the forecast was only for 4-6″ of snow, and that I could have gotten out of. This blog post is here to remind me next week, next month, and next winter: swallow your pride & move the damn car!

And work on that disconnection!

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Getting ready…

So we’re getting ready for snow number 3 within a week. This one is slightly worrying as they are calling for high winds along with the new 8-12. Gusts to 50mph, and that’s down below. Here on the mountain it’ll be even worse.
I’ve been putting back water since if we lose power we also lose the well pump.
Have lots of food still.
We have the camping stove to make something warm.
And have lots of blankets.
Hoping for the best…

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So here are some snow pics – click on them to see the full size.

Rhiannon Works On Her "Tunnel"

Hard at work

The Deck - A Work In Progress

Kasha Tries To Figure Out What Happened

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Snow apocalypse

We have at least 24 inches as of 9 am, maybe more since its hard to get out and measure it.
I went out at 3 am and cleared around the heat pump. It was knee high then.
Up most of the night so going back to being bearlike.

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Started round 9am.
Gonna snow for two days. 20 – 28″ worth.
I’m going back to sleep.
Gonna hibernate like a bear, until spring.
See U then.

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Yes, it’s gone from a 60 percent chhance of flurries to winter storm warning and 3 to 6 inches with locally higher.
It started here about 2 pm – about 2 hours early – and we already have around 2 inches of new snow on top of the 4 we had. I know because I moved the car to our nice neighbor’s driveway.
Roads up here are already very slick with people having trouble on the hills.
My head is killing me – storm equals migraine. Bad one. Gonna try to sleep thru it. Rhia’s got a headache too.
Did get my new phone which is charging b4 I can use it.
Call you 2morrow, Mom.

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