Is It Just Me, Or Is Winter Losing Some Of Its Charm?

Normally I’m a too-much-is-never enough kind of guy who lives by the motto, “Nothing succeeds like excess.”

Yet, sadly, I’m beginning to have second thoughts about snow.

Don’t get me wrong – I’d rather live in Mogadishu, Somalia than Miami, Florida, and I’ll take a blizzard over a heat wave any day. I’ve slept in snow caves, scaled mountains in minus-70 wind chills, hunkered down in bivvy sacks during furious whiteouts, been stuck for a week with two other guys in a two-man tent at 19,000 feet in the Andes, crossed glaciers in the Alps, trekked in the Himalayas, ventured onto the sea ice on the Arctic Ocean, been certified as an ice-climber, and every Jan. 1 for decades have plunged into the icy waters of Fishers Island Sound wearing just running shorts.

But I have to admit, this winter is testing my mettle.

It’s not so much the incessant stoking of the wood stoves, which I’ve chronicled a couple weeks ago and won’t belabor now. Nor is it the frigid blasts from polar vortexes that freeze you right down to the bone. Nor is it the ice that has turned every driveway, deck and walkway into a skating rink.

No, it’s the %&*@!! shoveling.

The season’s early storms were only somewhat annoying, producing fluffy flakes easily swept away with a broom.

This latest tempest, I don’t have to tell you, has deposited rime-coated slush with the specific gravity of semi-hardened cement. Worse, it sticks to the shovel like Gorilla Glue.

A few months ago, flush from my triumph in a rake-vs.-leaf blower contest, I rashly conceived a similar competition, pitting me wielding a snow shovel against a friend with a snow blower. I’ve always denigrated those demonic machines that guzzle gas, make a racket and spray white clouds everywhere. A determined, efficient shoveler should get the job done faster, I believed.

Now, I’m not so sure.

I’m still willing to take on the challenge, but think I’ll wait for a storm with fluffier flakes.

By the way, fellow purists (masochists?) needn’t worry – I’m not about to buy a snow blower. For one thing we have a gravel driveway that doesn’t lend itself to such machines (or, for that matter, to old-fashioned shovels).

A snow blower wouldn’t work very well, either, on the dirt paths and stone steps leading to the wood sheds – these I dig out first, even before clearing the driveway.

But the worst job is shaking the snow off the net canopies covering my blueberry bushes and grape vines.

Maddeningly, the snow has been adhering to this netting instead of filtering through, creating heavy blankets that have pulled down support posts and crossbeams. So now I have to trudge up to the garden with a rake and knock the snow off, which can only be done from underneath. Newton’s laws prevail, and the snow comes cascading down – in your face, on your head down your neck.

Next year, after the harvest, I think I’ll remove the netting for the winter. Of course, that means I’ll have to put it back up again the following spring – either that, or allow flocks of greedy birds to chow down on my fruit.

But I’m not worrying about that now. I’m thinking about the next storm due this weekend – and there’s still more than a month of winter to come.

You know what? Enough moaning. Time to take a break and strap on snowshoes or cross-country skis. Enjoy it while you can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reader Comments

MORE BLOGS

Training For Mystic Sharkfest: The Loneliness Of The Long-Distance Swimmer

Among the many benefits of active recreation is hanging out with friends – which of course you can do at a bar, pizza parlor or coffee shop, but since most of my pals prefer to spend their leisure time on the trail or water, we...

Stung By Wasps AND Suffering From Lyme Disease: I Can't Catch A Break

You know that funny, itchy feeling when something is crawling around or worse, lodged where it doesn’t belong?

Which Is Worse: Getting Devoured By A Grizzly Bear Or A Great White Shark?

During years of roaming hither and yon on land and sea, I’ve been chased by a grizzly bear, nearly trampled by stampeding yaks, charged by a bull, attacked by swarms of hornets and almost struck by a copperhead – but what...

A Whitewater Dream Taking Shape in Willimantic

Asked to name the best whitewater kayaking and canoeing stretches in Connecticut, most paddlers would single out a gnarly, 2.6-mile section of Class IV rapids on the Housatonic River from Bulls Bridge Dam to Gaylordville, or Diana's Pool...

My War With Canada Geese

Years ago I looked forward to autumn, not so much for the kaleidoscopic foliage but because the evening serenade of migrating Canada geese that lulled me to sleep.

Take A Hike Or A Paddle June 6-7 During Connecticut Trails Weekend

In a culture that celebrates virtually every pastime and passion – from National Kazoo Day Jan. 28 to Public Sleeping Day Feb. 28 to Moldy Cheese Day Oct. 9 – we outdoor enthusiasts finally get our day in the sun on June 6,...

A Fourth Straight Victory At The Essex Boat Race in Massachusetts: Paddling In A Small Division Pays Off

As Ian Frenkel and I paddled exuberantly toward the finish line last Saturday at the Essex River Race in Essex, Mass., I thought about what it had taken to pull off our fourth consecutive tandem sea kayaking victory.

Hiking The Continental Divide Trail From Mexico To Canada: 'It Is Fun Even When It's Miserable'

Applying the ancient Chinese proverb, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step," Mystic native Hilary Sueoka and her boyfriend, Dan Stedman, should have taken three steps April 22 when they set out on their...

Turtles And Osprey And Otters, Oh My – So Much To See By Kayak

The turtle has an ill-deserved reputation for lethargy.

The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Dirt Bikes

Fingernails across a chalk board, a baby crying, a dog barking incessantly – all are music to my ears compared to the whine of a dirt bike tearing through the forest.

Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Even Elizabeth Warren All Have Something In Common: The Black SUV

Here’s how ABC News reported an appearance last week by former Florida Gov. Bush, who is considering a bid for the Republican presidential nomination:

A Snowy Hike To Carter Notch In New Hampshire's White Mountains

Midway up the staggeringly steep Wildcat Ridge Trail in New Hampshire’s White Mountains earlier this week, after my son, Tom, and I had postholed up to our knees 487 times through rotten snow despite wearing snowshoes, we began...

Ah, Spring: Moving Rocks, Lugging Logs, Digging Holes And Other Fun Activities

A 3-foot-high mound of snow still stubbornly piled beneath the deck serves as a grim reminder of this past winter’s relentless brutality, and of the months spent shoveling, shoveling, shoveling.