Today one of the neighbor kids told me she was tired of all the snow. I smiled to myself, remembering when I heard that from Government Camp kids who lived for skiing and snowboarding. Only in the case of the Govvy kids, it took until April, of a rather cold and snowy year, for them to tire of it. This year certainly seems to be shaping up to be one of those years.
And yet I’m still not really tired of the snow. I am tired of the -20 temperatures, simply because they make everything so hard. But teens and twenties with the snow? Not so bad…if I could only get my ski boots on so that I could enjoy it. But both my ankles are rebelling against going into the boots, so I’m working with them twice a day to see if that will help (and they are Really Nice Boots, too!). If it doesn’t? Guess the skiing days are over. I’ll miss that, but I’ve lost my condition and strength, plus the way the ankles are stiff? Not necessarily a good sign that I should be doing it. I didn’t think it would be ankle flexibility that would put an end to my ski days.
On the other hand, there are simple moments to enjoy even without the skiing. I’d much rather march through snow than rain. Cold rain that sends tendrils of wet ice into your muscles and bones is no fun at all. Snow in a dry climate doesn’t act like that. The cold, even the subzero cold, is a weight shoving against you that can be kept at bay with enough shielding and heat. Even when it crawls into the house at 20 below it doesn’t possess the sharp, bitey edges of damp icy rain. The boots I have now are much less slick than the boots I had 35 years ago, when I remember slipping and sliding around Enterprise at 20 below. Then again, it’s a newer era and I bought good snow boots for skiing and work with an eye toward safety and comfort.
This snow can be easily swept or scraped out of the way.
But there needs to be routines to deal with it and the cold. Below about 10 degrees, it’s time to turn on the water to a trickle at bedtime so the one junction where the water comes into the house doesn’t freeze (or the meter, either). Turn the thermostat so that the furnace switches on in the early morning, when the last heat from the wood stove fades. Watch the thermometer on the wood stove to keep the temps running as they should.
Remember to drink water. In the dry cold it’s easy to forget about keeping hydrated. Until Mocha went through her first winter at pasture I worried that she might not drink enough. I shouldn’t have worried. She took to drinking from a heated trough easily and continued the trend I noticed early on of drinking more than I remember her doing in Portland. This year, I notice more how she savors the warmed water when she drinks, dipping her lips in the water and drinking slowly. Last year, true, she was low in the herd hierarchy and ran with a herd member who wanted to fight everyone. This year, she’s friends with the herd alphas and has a comfortable place in the hierarchy. That comfort gets reflected in her relaxed behavior at the water trough.
Going outside in subzero temps definitely requires forethought, layering and planning. Scarf/neck gaiter, hat, gloves, sweater, coat, boots. One set of clothing for the barn–heavier because there’s more wind out there and I’ll be out longer than I would be walking around town. Another set for going to meetings or walking around town. Still another set for inside the house where the wood stove makes it quite temperate.
And yet I won’t trade one whit of it for the damp and the rain.