January 17, 2021

As part of a Christmas gift, someone gave me a box of these inspirational cards. I flip through them every once in a while and this one stood out to me because I feel like I had a moment like this today.

Our two dogs are a lot like small children in the house. They get bored periodically and start getting snippy with each other or with us. They drag their toys around the living room and fight over the same bones. Usually around late afternoon, I can tell that they need to release some energy. Mind you, they have a doggie door and a large, fenced back yard which they run out into throughout the day, mostly to bark at some poor neighbor trying to walk past our fence. Yet they still seem to need some interaction. Probably because we aren’t walking them around the neighborhood during the winter like we do during the warmer months.

So I started going out into the back yard with them. It’s amazing how excited they get when they see me grab my snow boots. They have complete and total access to the backyard 24/7, but for some reason, they love it when I (or we) go out with them. Usually, it prompts them to start a game of chase where they run after each other around the yard. And sometimes, like today, we just walk to the back fence and stand under the trees together.

I’m sure our neighbors think we’re weird, but I don’t care. Most days it helps the dogs lounge easier all evening, having worn themselves out a bit. And it makes me feel good to know how much they love it.

Today, as I stood in the backyard with my pups, we all looked up at the trees and breathed in the cool, fresh air when it started softly snowing. I looked back at our house, and I thought, I’m really happy to be in this moment. Like the saying on the card, I felt truly grateful for what I have.

Snow. Again.

I’m tired of winter. It snowed again today, and I’m just ready for it to go even though it hasn’t been a bad winter, considering. We’ve had nominal snowfall and not too frigid temperatures. We’ve only shoveled half a dozen times at most. But I’m craving Spring… the sunshine, the new plants, the longer days. I want to go outside unfettered by a heavy coat and boots. I keep reminding myself that we’re almost there. March is coming.

In the meantime, I’ve been grateful for some things. My current grad class is interesting. The Walking Dead started a new season. The cat hasn’t been waking me up in the middle of the night lately. My last car repair only cost me $16. I got to share another Valentine’s Day with Patrick. Our new ice cream machine works great. And Bree makes me laugh.

April 14

I’m just going to say it and get it out there. It snowed today. Not just a few flakes, but an accumulation of white stuff everywhere. I even had to scrape my car. While this is not something I’m thankful for (quite the opposite), I am thankful that I know it won’t last. Unlike the polar vortex of the winter months, this is just Spring’s funny little pre-Easter joke. Therefore, I’m not letting it get me down. I’m not dragging my winter coats back out of the closet either. I’ll double-up on jackets if I must for a couple of days, but I refuse to bundle up in a down stadium coat any longer. Instead, I’ll continue to enjoy the lovely flowers sitting on my kitchen island, waiting to be planted outside. The smell of lilies, hyacinths, tulips and daffodils fills my kitchen, reminding me that the white outside will be gone in a flash. In the meantime, I have spring inside, waiting.

March 21

It struck me when I got the mail tonight that the huge mound of snow which almost covered my mailbox is almost gone. Just like that. It’s funny because I had gotten so used to tiptoeing carefully out to get the mail. Every time the snow plows would go by, they’d push the snow up higher and higher in front of the box so the post wasn’t even visible. It was like my little black mailbox was sitting at the top of its own snow hill. And the built-up ice on the ground in front was precarious. Whenever we’d get a bit of a thaw, there would be a pool of water at the end of my drive, which would then freeze back over. I’d have to shuffle across the ice, step carefully to the mailbox and then onto another step I had created in the snow bank just so I could reach across the three feet of snow far enough to grab the mail without falling. Or if it was just too darn cold to even walk out there, I’d drive my car up as close as I could, which was still about 3 feet away. My car would sit at an angle while I opened the door, rolled down the window and hung out through the hole just to reach out far enough to open the door on the mailbox. I’m sure my neighbors think I’m a little crazy. But today, I was able to walk right up and get the mail, with only a small patch of snow and ice to contend with. I was thankful for that.

I was convinced all winter that I was going to slip one day and hurt myself. I have a tendency to trip over my own feet. And when I fall, I do so fabulously. It’s the stuff of cartoons. Once, when I lived in the country, unbeknownst to me, my entire yard became a sheet of ice. As I trudged to my car (I had no garage) I slipped, my entire body went airborne straight up in the air, and I came down on my back. My purse, my work bag, my coffee mug went flying. I lay there, stunned, coffee pouring out around my head, papers and junk scattered around me until a one of the outside cats slinked over and meowed. I chipped a bone in my elbow on that fall.

Another time, I was on my way into work. The concrete steps were covered in rubber, and because it was winter and my shoes were wet, I slipped going down the stairs when my heel hit the edge of the stair. Again, I flew up and came straight down on my back. This time I not only had my bags of junk, but I was also talking on my cell phone. Everything went flying. My cell phone landed at the bottom of the stairs and broke apart. Papers scattered. And I just sort of slid down the stairs on my back, completely winded. And hurt. I collected my items and limped to my office. I called the girlfriend I was talking to at the time to let her know why we were so rudely disconnected. She laughed, of course. But wow, you should have seen the bruises I sported about a week later.

Unfortunately, those falls were unwitnessed. Which is too bad because I’m sure they were hilarious. I wish I could have seen myself; I would have laughed. Another good fall I had did have a witness. It was inside at work when I was escorting a copy machine repair man down to the work room so I could unlock the door for him. As we rounded a corner, I stepped on the side of my high heeled shoe and twisted my ankle. I went down so hard on my hands and knees that my hands made an echoing slap against the floor. I’m laughing as I write this. The poor guy tried to pretend nothing happened. Thankfully, only my pride was hurt that time. And even more thankfully, no one from our police department witnessed it on the security camera. At least no one ever mentioned it to me.

So, I’m glad today I made it through the ice and snow without a major fall. At least so far. And if I have one coming up, I earnestly hope there are witnesses to enjoy it.

Feb 6

I’m seriously tired of the cold. The snow. And the wind. I’m trying really hard to find some good things in this miserable weather. I was talking with a co-worker the other day about winter. We agreed that it isn’t that we hate it. After all, there is still fun to be had in winter. I do like sledding and ice skating, snowmobiling and skiing. It’s just that with this particular winter, it has been too cold to be outside much at all. Going from my car to my office requires a sprint because the wind is brutal. By the time I get to my office door, I look like I’ve been sobbing. My eyes have watered up, my face is chapped. And I don’t think my feet have been completely warm since October.

Yes, this winter has been challenging. However, I did actually note a few things on my quick jaunts outside today. Have you noticed how when the sun reflects just right on the snow, it sparkles likes glitter? I love that. It seems magical. And there’s a tree in my yard that hasn’t lost all of the berries. They’re hanging like small little ornaments. It attracts birds, and a cardinal sitting on a branch against the white snow is a sight that’s always lovely to me. I’m also fortunate enough to work on a campus that has a park-like setting. There is a pond that attracts a large amount of geese, which typically roam the grounds at will. The buildings are separated by a creek and a large stone bridge and two smaller footbridges connect the sides. There are groves of trees and landscaping that includes a large amount of flowering bushes and native plants. In all seasons, it’s truly a beautiful place to come to on a daily basis. Of course, when something becomes the norm, it’s easy to forget how unique it may really be. Yet there are times I’m reminded. Like today when I was crossing the bridge and a bunny hopped towards me. Or the other night, when I was on that same bridge and the lamps reflected off the frozen creek and outlined the trees and rocks and nature, and the stillness of the setting somehow seemed alive.

As much as I’m counting down the days until Spring (42), I am thankful for the nature around me. Winter can beautiful, even the miserably cold ones.

Day 26: Buried in Snow

Once again, the weather has turned to crud. I woke this morning to more snow on my driveway. I don’t necessarily mind shoveling snow, but when the temperature drops to something around zero, it’s not fun. And the street plows typically show up about ten minutes after I’m done, shoving all the wet, compacted snow back into the end of my drive like a mini barricade. My next door neighbor (nice guy) has also taken it on himself to snow blow out a path on our adjoining yards to the fire hydrant located on our plot line. I’m sure he means well, but he shoots the snow towards my drive, adding more height to the dangerously high mound already there. Now, I’m not a tall person. When I shovel, I somehow need to toss the snow over this mound that’s darn near my height already. I’ve not said anything to my neighbor, but I really wish he’d shoot the snow into his own yard. He is about a foot taller than I am–and he has that darn snow blower on top of it! But I was raised Catholic, which means I have an innate sense of doom when it comes to these things. I know if I make this a problem, and he doesn’t plow out our fire hydrant, it’s my house going up in flames. With no hydrant visible.

So I say nothing and shovel and toss. Thankfully, the wind has been whipping through here at about 50 miles per hour. It almost just pulls the snow off of my shovel if I can get it up high enough. Of course, I need to be upwind for this to be truly effective. I’ve discovered throwing snow into the wind only gets my face chapped. And sends the snow back across the drive for me to chase. I hope someone had fun watching that one. I have gotten lucky, however. There have been a few occasions where I’ve gone outside to discover that a neighbor (not the aforementioned one) has come by and snow blown my drive for me. And a couple of times the lady across the street has walked over with her blower to help me after the snow plow came through after an hour of shoveling. I’m grateful for the help, but it makes me feel guilty. Most of my neighbors are retirees. I should be helping them. That’s how I was raised.

So today I’m thankful I needed to make yet another trip to Lowes. There I discovered a snow blower on clearance. A very nice, shiny red one that someone had returned for apparently a silly reason. I was assured it worked just fine, but because it had been returned, it was discounted. Not as much as I’d have preferred, but significantly. Enough to get it into my car. I’m still hoping it doesn’t snow another flake for the rest of the winter, but if it does, I’m now ready.