Everyone else has been getting snow days–we’re at what is hopefully the bitter end to an uncharacteristic late winter cold and snow snap. Temperatures have been up and down for weeks, hitting well below 0 degrees Farenheit zero (-18 C) on multiple occasions and, until the past weekend, ascending above freezing for just two days out the the past month or so. Unfortunately, it rained like hell both of those days, in between snow storms, accumulating inches of slush that turned to the ice that lay beneath everything that hasn’t been constantly shoveled, scraped, and salted. My wife is a teacher, and her school has cancelled at least 6 days, with at least that many late openings and early dismissals, combined.
I grew accustomed to my kids are sleeping in morning after morning, classes on what seemd like a perpetual 2-hour delay, due to cold. I sat at my desk one morning last week and guzzled coffee: outside it was -4 F, which didn’t even feel that cold. It was not so long ago I was bundling up in wool sweater, parka, gloves, scarf, and cap to go out to our community’s annual “It’s a Wonderful Life” light-up night back in November. I remember the gentle winter breeze felt like it was cutting like a dagger.
It was 29 degrees.
If it had been 29 degrees last week I’d have gone outside without a jacket and washed the truck.
No precipitation right now, but it’s supposed to hit 50 degrees–we’ve been above freezing, with highs in the upper 30s and 40s for the past 3 days as well, and not a moment too soon. If the meteorologists are to be believed (and they aren’t) things look good, and above averages, through the weekend. Sweet. I’ve got yard work to do. Apple trees and shrubbery to prune, fallen sticks and branches to pick up, and who knows what else is hidden beneath the foot or so of crystalized mess in the backyard.
It will be a treat. I’ve got this little property maintenance gig, and one of the things I do is clear sidewalks for a local landlord whose student tenants are too lazy and indifferent (as I was when I was a student) to do it for themselves. It’s always been fun, invigorating, especially since I stopped trying to wrestle a snowblower in and out of the truck and opted to do as much as I could by hand. It’s good, clean work. The sound of the shovel scraping concrete pleases me, and despite all those mothers in the world urging us to bundle up I think the cold, fresh air is good for me. I know getting outside, even under cloudy skies, is a good thing–no seasonal depression disorder for me. I’m the same level of grumpy as always.
But the level of weather has been bullshit. I said that the other morning, when I woke to find three new inches when the forecast had called for “a dusting.”
“This is bullshit.” I said. It didn’t help.
Normally, I expect to shovel 17 times, give or take. Last year was high with 24 trips around town spread between early December and March. This year there was one day of work in December, nothing even in early January, but I’ve been out 37 times in slightly less than 2 months. Some of those are two trips on the same day, and some of them were easy–a few inches of powder. The heavy snow and slush of the past two weeks, on the other hand, has been a mess–impossible to clear without hundreds of pounds of salt, and hell on my arms. I’ve got what I think is tendonitis in my left elbow. Tendonitis! From shoveling!
On the bright side: I’ve been planting. My package from Fedco Seeds arrived a few weeks back, and I’ve got my onions growing in flats under lights, and the leeks are germinating and should sprout within the next few days. We joke around here about “clinging to our guns and religion,” thanks to a certain President’s unfortunate, but astute observations of our regional mores, but at this point it is those little green blades of onion starts that are keeping me sane.
Remind me of this when I’m moaning about the heat.