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

Tom And Steve’s Excellent Adventures In The Northwest Part III: Kayaking Off The Oregon Coast And Columbia River Gorge; Hiking On Mount Saint Helens

Propelled by the sound of crashing surf, my son Tom and I scrambled over a low dune and then gazed in awe.

A Connecticut Yankee In The Northwest Part II: A Cross-Country Ski Adventure, Of Sorts, At Oregon's Crater Lake

Lugging back-country skis and poles on our shoulders, my son Tom and I trudged along the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway at Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park, searching for a section of road that had not been plowed.

A Connecticut Yankee In The Northwest: Stunning Views, Adventures On Land And Water (Part I)

As I clambered toward the crest of the Mist Trail in California’s Yosemite National Park a couple weeks ago, spray from the thunderous Nevada Fall washed over me, but I was already soaked, with sweat, after gaining nearly 2,000 feet of...

Vacations From Hell: At Least They’re Memorable

Just between us, don’t you hate it when friends or coworkers post photos on Facebook of awesome journeys to exotic destinations – or if they’re really old-school, send postcards depicting glorious sunsets, sparkling lakes,...

In Stride With Women Runners: Amby Burfoot Celebrates Their History In A New Book

Back in the Dark Ages when I was growing up, one of the worst insults an adolescent male could hurl at one of his buddies was, "You run like a girl!"

Danger, Swan Attack! Quick, Wring Its Neck!

It’s difficult to imagine a more outrageous example of idiotic government overreaction than this week’s incident involving a mute swan on Five Mile Pond in Danielson, which would almost be laughable if the outcome weren’t so...

The Parable Of The Rope: An Icy Mountain Drama In New Hampshire's Carter Notch

With a blustery breeze making the 8-degree temperature feel as if were a few notches below zero, our group didn’t intend to dawdle while scrambling back to civilization. The mountain hut where we spent the night had been so frigid my boots...

Over The Falls! A Salmon River Adventure

You know that feeling when you’re about to attempt something adventurous that at first seemed it would be fun, but then doubts about your safety and sanity crept in? Oh no! Too late!

There's No Such Thing As Too Much Garlic

A few years ago, while visiting relatives in Canada, I noticed a giant basket of produce in a corner of the kitchen. "Wow! Where’d you get all that garlic?" I asked.

Plenty Of Mudslinging On The Trail

Well, we’ve made it through another winter, though for snow and ice fans it was pretty pitiful – but we’re not quite out of the woods when it comes to challenging hiking conditions.

Hey, Shaddup Out There! At Least Can You Tone Down All That Screeching, Snorting, Squawking, Croaking, Buzzing And Howling?

OK, I get it. It’s mating season, when all the furry, feathered and slimy critters are desperate for a little action, using the only pickup technique they know: make loud noises.

'Life Is Full of Roadblocks, But You Have to Drive Through Them' – Dirk Vlieks' Inspiring Recovery

After having swum the 1.2-mile leg of Hawaii’s Rohto Half-Ironman triathlon Dirk Vlieks of Mystic was 22 miles into the 56-mile bike section, already thinking ahead to the 13.1-mile run to the finish line, when he began to feel...

My Acute Case of OCWD (Obsessive Compulsive Wood Disorder)

You’d think that those of us who heat with wood can relax this time of year when we no longer must make 10 trips a day to the woodshed, stumble out of bed at 3 a.m. to stoke the stove, continuously shovel ashes and forage the forest for...