The seed catalogs are piling up on my desk. Their pages promise luscious morning glories, blue ribbon worthy tomatoes, handy tools to ease the labor of weeding. I have started to compile a wish list of seeds I want to grow this year. Sketches and maps of my garden record the moments of day dreaming I engage in after loading the woodbox. I shovel the car free from snow and I think about the amendments I want to add to my soil. I walk past that corner of the garden where I want more high bush blueberries and I can imagine the jam burbling in the pot. I am a 4 year old writing a list for Santa. This is January. All the big plans happen in January when the perspective of a full year spreads out in front of me.
I was reminded of the power of perspective with our most recent snow storm. This is the time of year when the trials can pile up. Not overwhelming life changing trials, just those garden variety annoyances that seem to happen with too much frequency, usually at times that when the windchill is below zero and the the pocket feels a little lean.
Two years ago was the first winter after my divorce. While I was able to pay my mortgage and feed my family, money was really tight. This was the winter when the term “Polar Vortex” became part of the vernacular. In October I stood in my woodshed and boasted that I had my wood chopped and stacked earlier than husband ever did when we were married. Pride goeth… By the end of January I knew that my woodpile would not make it to the end of the season. There were a lot of folks struggling with the same realization.
If this was my only challenge I could manage. However, I also struggled with a dying car battery and a car which had the uncanny ability to get stuck on the slimmest sliver of ice. I called AAA twice that winter. Once to jump my car and another time to pull me out of a ditch. Both times the tow truck also stuck in my drive. Then one morning in February, I woke to the sound of breaking glass. An icicle had fallen off the roof and crashed into my kitchen window. Wood was delivered in March. The wood truck was only able to get the wood to the end of the drive. In the perfect symmetry of three, the truck got stuck trying to get out. There is an old adage of wood heating you three times: chopping, loading and burning, I added a fourth as I pulled the wood in a sled from the bottom of the drive to the wood shed.
Last winter presented another opportunity to learn new skills. With the experience of the prior winter still fresh in my memory I made sure there was more wood than I thought I needed. I had the resources to replace the battery and buy snow tires. I did not park at my house all winter and only found my car stuck on a little snow. But it was really cold. “Sno-maggedon” is a term that got bandied about as if the end of the world was something that could happen more than once. On the return from a farm sitting gig, a stuck caliper stopped my car in its tracks. The snow bank I parked my car behind did not allow the morning sun to warm my car. I learned the handy skill of starting a car with starter fluid. Several other issues arose to cement a winter PTSD in my psyche.
So it was with trepidation that I trekked up to the car during the last snow storm. I turn the car on. It starts without jumper cables, starter fluid or prayer. I shovel the car out, scrape the windows free of ice. Inside the car is cozy warm, my foot slowly pushes on the accelerator gently and the car moves. I am on my way.
I’m not going to say that, with perseverance, any problem can be solved. Sometimes life requires you to just muddle through without grace. There were times these last few winters when my son sat in the back seat of the car and saw his mother hurl a shovel, throw her hands up in the air, and probably heard her muffled swear through the closed car window. I gauge the ease of this winter with the simple cheer that comes from the backseat as we take off down the road.
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