Sunday, February 28, 2010

February, the dead of winter.........

Asleep, anesthetized, barren, buried, cold, cut off, deadened, dormant, frigid, inactive, inanimate, inert, inoperable, lifeless, lost, numbed, paralyzed, senseless, spent, spiritless, sterile, still, tired, unresponsive, unanimated, vanished, wasted, wearied, worn out, winter......

This has been an especially hard winter here in northeastern America. The burning, numbing, eye-watering cold has combined with virtually unremitting snowfall to suppress spirits, break machinery and kill the weak, the old and the ill. We have lost several cherished pets over the years during this heartless month, when graves cannot even be dug in the frozen earth.

"If death meant just leaving the stage long enough to change costume and come back as a new character....Would you slow down? Or speed up?" ~ Chuck Palahniuk.

Ask me this question in February and I am apt to choose the speedy costume change; but do not suppose that I am depressed. In so many ways I enjoy the solitude of being housebound. In early winter I anticipate the quietude of day after week of enforced rest. In Spring, Summer and Fall, I plan many diversionary wintertime projects to keep myself happily occupied. I like to cook and bake and make big cauldrons of nourishing soups for us, for friends, and for the freezer. I choose good-weather days to restock my pantry, darting from house, to car, to stores, and scurry back home again. I take my vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin!). I wait for spring. I nest. I hole up. I look out of the windows a lot. I dress warmly for my daily trek to the barn to feed the cats, and every few hours I go out to shovel away the snow from my doors. If I can keep some semblance of order in my life, the cold death of winter cannot come for me in February.

However, FOUR blizzards in one month are mentally and physically HARD to deal with. I cannot even find words to describe the last few weeks, as they have run together endlessly. So I will just share some of my favorite recent photos.....

Art doing some X-Country skiing. Winter always starts out fun!!

Mo enjoys an invigorating run. It's so beautiful outdoors and it's fun to play in the fresh snow!!

Whoa! Nor'easter dumps 31" of heavy, wet snow on 2/5 and 2/6/10. Gotta get down to the shed, fire up the big John Deere and blower and clear this mess up!

It took all day and proved too much for our old snowblower, but between shoveling, plowing, blowing and pushing, we finally got the driveway and lanes opened up to the barn.

We are cleaned up and ready for the next one!
Take a picture of us, Mom!!

New snowblower, an MK Martin Meteor made in Canada, delivered on 2/12/10. We're ready for the next blizzard...............
Bring it on, Mother Nature!!

Wow, we were just kidding around, Mother Nature!!! Can you make it stop now? It's 2/16/10 and our fences are now almost buried under 50" of snow that fell over the past 12 days.

By 2/19/10 our back roof is holding over 5' of heavy snow and another Nor'easter is predicted. We don't want to stress this roof any further, so the two of us climb out there and proceed to shovel the roof clear of approximately 22,000 pounds of snow.

The snow continues, unabated. Icicles obstruct our views. The wind howls and deep drifts form, making travel barely possible. This is our new paradigm. Nothing melts. The snow just grows deeper. We are becoming entombed. We haven't seen the sun in over 3 weeks. We discuss climate change and El Nino. We decide that, though we're much better equipped mechanically to handle severe storms than we were years ago, we are older now. And we lament that we are not as physically strong as we were when we were young. We are amazed at our resiliency. We pat ourselves on the back and keep on shoveling. We discover that by some perverse miracle, shoveling snow actually makes our aching backs feel better.

Another week of snowfall. Every day it seems we get another 4-6" of fresh powder. We have lost track of the measurements and are simply awed by the sheer dimensions of so much snow.

Meteorologists called it a Snowicane - is that even a word? On 2/25/10 we have high winds, blowing and drifting snow, and finally our roads are narrowed to one lane and are drifting shut. Winds gust over 60 miles per hour. Now we are truly isolated. We are officially 'snowed in'. The county's snowplowing protocol goes into blizzard mode. The plows only clear the main arteries and snow emergency routes now. The secondary and back roads are cast adrift until the storm abates. Nothing moves on the road except for an occasional snowmobile and it is very quiet when the wind finally stops howling.

We heat our home with wood, and we've made some big withdrawals this month from our wood stockpile. We have burned 6-7 cords so far, but there's plenty left to finish out the winter.

Mo continues to enjoy all the snow, proving it's great to live a dog's life at Jolico Farm! He doesn't miss an opportunity to accompany us outdoors and he has added a new word to his vocabulary. The command, "DIG IT, MO", sends him digging into a snowbank to loosen the packed snow so I can shovel it away.

So, when all is said and done, there is always the beauty of last summer's geraniums, blooming anew in the back mud room, getting a jump on Spring. They are proof positive that there is life after the dead of winter.......... if we can just survive the month of February.


  1. Aunt Max and Uncle Art:
    Thank you much!! That was simply amazing and I loved reading all about the latest adventures. Be safe and well.
    Love always

  2. I've been admiring (aspiring to) Jolico Farm lately but certainly not your snowfall now, fur sure...
    And I thought it was unrelenting this year here in little ol' Columbus, O-hoo-who!

    Chin Up!
    The sun WILL shine once more!

  3. Wow! Reminds me of December 2000 in Jersey (used to live there)...boy, did it SNOW!