It’s Time to Bow Down to Boreas, God of the North Wind, and Khione, Goddess of Snow

All right, this is getting ridiculous.

After that freak snowstorm last October, we haven’t had one freaking flake descend here in southeastern Connecticut, and those of us who crave cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, building igloos and other fun activities are sick and tired of moping around, staring at bare ground.

I realize most people are grateful we aren’t shoveling driveways every other day or skidding off the road as we did during last year’s record snowfall season, but I’ve always felt anyone who complains about snow in Connecticut should move to Mississippi, Alabama, Arizona or some other godforsaken state.

All right, I haven’t exactly been moping. I’ve taken advantage of this winter’s snowlessness by extending my rock construction and logging operations – ordinarily unheard of in January. A couple of weeks ago I finished building a stone cairn that measures about 8 feet tall at its high point and about 10 feet wide at the base, a monumental project that I’m sure will mystify archaeologists eons from now.

In so doing I’ve pretty much exhausted the supply of available rocks within a few hundred yards of our house, so I’ll have to wait at least until next spring, when frost will have pushed a fresh crop to the surface, to resume my Sisyphusian labors.

Last week I cut down a giant oak that had been split by Tropical Storm Irene, along with an even bigger silver birch that was intruding in an area where I plan to plant evergreen seedlings in the spring.

But I already have all the firewood I need for this year and next cut, split and stacked in my two woodsheds, along with a good start on my supply for the following season. I can’t get too far ahead, though, or else the wood left outside will rot. Maybe I should build a third woodshed.

I have Cordova envy. How great it would be to live in that Alaskan hamlet in which 15 feet of snow has piled up so far this season, with more on the way!

All right, maybe that’s too much, but at this point I’d settle for one foot. Heck, I’ll even take an inch.

Thursday was the last straw. A perfectly good low-pressure system brings tons of precipitation, and what happens? It all falls as rain thanks to hated warm air blowing up from the South. Now the trails are a muddy mess.

Too bad we no longer curse the weather gods, as the ancients once did. We blame climate change, global warming or the greenhouse effect.

Me, I’d rather bow down to a legendary deity such as Boreas, the purple-winged god of the north wind, who swept down from the mountains of Thrake and froze the air with his icy breath.

When looking for a mate, Boreas, who is often depicted with his cheeks puffed out, exhaling a frozen gust, stumbled upon a comely maiden frolicking in a flower-covered meadow. This was Oreithyia, nicknamed “Mountain Gale,” the daughter of King Erekhtheus of Athens. In typical Greek god fashion, Boreas carried Oreithyia off and had his way with her.

The couple bore Khione, who became the goddess of snow.

So I beseech you, O Mighty Boreas: Blow your icy breath on New England, and may your daughter Khione bring us her white gift of the gods.

Otherwise, we’re all going to the house of Hades in a handbasket.






Reader Comments


How to Build a Stone Wall in 14,863 Easy Steps

I realized long ago that you’re never really finished building a stone wall, even after you’ve dragged and hefted into place what seemed like the final boulder, exhaled mightily and stepped back to admire your work.

Just in Time for the Holidays: Fagin's Annual Gift Catalogue for the Discerning Outdoorsman and Outdoorswoman

How often does this happen to you: You’re merrily tearing through the woods in your four-wheeler and come to what looks like a shallow stream but turns out to be a deep, water-filled ditch, so your beloved machine sinks like a stone beneath...

Arduous Autumn

In spring we crawl out of our cocoons and celebrate bursting rejuvenation; in summer we play outside from dawn to dusk; during the dark, frigid winter we hunker down like hibernating bears – which leaves fall, when we try to set aside time...

Chain Saw? We Don't Need No Stinking Chain Saw…

So, did you hear that doctors have developed a new method of performing an appendectomy without using anesthesia? It’s exactly like the old operation, except it hurts like a son of a b.

You CAN Go Home Again: A Run Through My Old West Haven Stomping Grounds

Although for decades I’ve been living in a home surrounded by trees that is heated primarily by wood stoves, and I enjoy kayaking, mountain climbing, building stone walls, growing organic vegetables and many other active outdoor pursuits,...

Utah Rocks Part II: Kayaking Down The Colorado River

Propelled by a swift current on the Colorado River earlier this month, my son, Tom, and I gazed at red rock cliffs gleaming against an azure, near cloudless sky. The rustle of aspen and cottonwoods in a gentle breeze mingled with the rush of...

Utah Rocks: Adventures Among The Arches And The Rapids (Part I)

You know how it feels when you witness something so astonishingly exquisite and surreal it literally takes your breath away, and all you can do is gasp in amazement?

Oops. I Meant To Say, Whatever You Do, NEVER Try To Pose For A Selfie With Bear Cubs While Mama Grizzly Is Watching, And Other Corrections

• Alert readers have correctly pointed out a slight flaw in my instructions for the proper rock climbing command when you have unclipped from your rope. You should loudly announce, "Rappel off," not "On rappel."...

Use It Or Lose It: Trails Disappear If Nobody Hikes Them

Nature really hates a vacuum when it comes to paths.

Plunging Through Plum Gut And Bongo Sliding Through The Race In A Kayak: Maybe There Is Such A Thing As Too Much Fun

So a rabbi and a psychiatrist are kayaking in the ocean when a giant wave crashes over them and knocks the rabbi unconscious. The psychiatrist manages to pull the rabbi ashore, where he regains consciousness.

Once Again, Pink Gloves (Plus a Clever Signal) Help Save The Day At The Josh Billings Runaground Triathlon

"On your left!" Phil Warner shouted from the bow of a tandem kayak, racing toward a buoy during the paddle leg of last Sunday’s Josh Billings Runaground Triathlon in Lenox, Mass.

It's Swallow Time Again On The Connecticut River

Early Thursday evening was a magical time to paddle on the lower Connecticut River near Lyme.

Rocks In Their Heads Again: Another Bunch Of Idiots Knock Over An Ancient Stone Formation, This Time In Oregon

"Every now and again people do something so monumentally destructive, dimwitted and dishonorable it belongs in a class of disgracefulness normally reserved for trophy hunters ... It’s almost as if they wake up one morning and say to...