Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Snow Day Thoughts

We don’t have much snow—maybe only a couple inches, but it’s still snowing and they say more is on the way. The wind is blowing and already trying to drift what little snow we do have, and it’s too cold for salt to melt the snow on the roads. The scene out my office window looks like the picture on a Christmas card and the wind makes a slight howl as it rushes past my window. The “leaves,” moving strangely at right angles to the wind in the forest edge, turn out to be tiny chickadees and nuthatches fighting the elements to find enough food to help them live another day. I noticed last evening that a wren had laid claim to the nest a flycatcher had built under the eaves last spring. He won’t use it come spring, but it gives him a safe spot on the leeward side of the house in which to spend a cold night.

I called the truck driving school this morning, about a half-hour before opening, and the manager said he hadn’t decided whether to cancel classes or not. He’d been telling everyone to use their own judgment. I told him that I lived on a high ridge and that my concern wasn’t in getting there, but in making it back to my wife and dog afterward, so I’d just stay home. That seemed fine by him. He was outside the office shoveling the porch when I called. I hope he wises up and goes home, since he’s no spring chicken.

When I was young and worked with my dad, we earned only what we could scrape up from the sawmill and firewood sales this time of year, so we worked in some pretty foul weather. I remember the deep snows of ’77, ’78 and ’79 when I was living in town with my first wife and couldn’t even make it to the farm. I’d shovel the snow from in front of the apartment into the bed of my pickup until it was heaped up, and then I’d have enough traction that the old ’68 International 2-wheel would go almost anywhere.

I’d take my wife to work, or to class, as the case may have been, then walk the end of town where I lived, peddling honey from my own bees and shoveling sidewalks to pick up a few bucks. I always told folks to pay me whatever it was worth to them for the shoveling. I quickly learned who the skinflints were. I did it as much for entertainment as money, though, so I figured my conscience was clear; they could deal with the Lord over theirs.

One of those winters, I’d just stepped into the apartment and opened the front drapes in time to see the front porch roof drop to the concrete with a boom. I’m sure the two feet of snow and the weight of the roof would have killed me had I still been outside the door.
Squirrel hunting had always been my favorite sport, but so many of the little creatures starved in their dens those three winters that it took the grey squirrel population 20 years to recover. It was more like 30 for the fox squirrels. Due to that, I basically gave up squirrel hunting.

I remember when I thought snow was a fun thing to have but, now that I’m old and grumpy, it doesn’t look nearly as pretty to me. In fact, I’m developing a certain appreciation for the color brown. Many times, “snow” feels like just another four-letter word. Oh well, I’ll have lots of time to study for retaking my air-brakes exam! © 2014


kymber said...

Mr. Smythe - you are a true and proper gentleman and that has never gotten by me! jambaloney and i have always said that if times got tough for us, we would do whatever we had to do to survive. your life has been a shining example of that and your memories and stories help us all to remember that when hard times come...the truly tough always find a way! it is a little amazing that you made it in safe and sound before the porch roof dropped. i am happy for that. because you are still here to teach those of us with willing ears to hear. i am sorry for my radio silence of late in commenting here...but i have caught up on all of the older posts, enjoyed the stories, the histories and various links. and bookmarked all that could help us out in the future. thank you, Sir.

your friend,

Ed Winkle said...

You teach truck driving? Your view out your window looks like the picture John Haggard sent me from WVA this morning. My sister and family is just north of the river in Gallia County.

Your sawmill experience sounds like my friend sawmillhillbilly just north of me. Bill cut our Douglas fir up after the tornado we had in 06. It is now our dining room floor.

Stay warm and keep a bloggin'.

Ed Winkle

Gorges Smythe said...

Wow, kymber, that's quite a vote of confidence. You know, of course, that I'll never live up to it, but I appreciate it! Bless you.

Actually, Ed, I was never in a big rig until yesterday - as a student learning how to simply back-up! I loved saswmilling - wish I was still doing it. I'll keep writing if you will. How's that?

Brian said...

Gorges the snow can be a pain but it is pretty as a picture for a while. The rain seems endless over this side of the world. Keep warm stay safe :)

jambaloney said...


that is some memory you have! you are a great story-teller!

i remember big snows in ottawa when i was a kid - sure seemed a lot more fun back then - i too think the white stuff is over-rated ;-))

best of luck with the studying - stay warm and cozy!

cheers friend!

Sunnybrook Farm said...

Glad you didn't go today, I was wondering if they would call it off. I guess they could teach you what to do when one slides into the ditch but probably a written explanation would be enough.

Gorges Smythe said...

Will do, Brian, and you try to stay dry!

My memory is large because my age keeps climbing, jambaloney! Some days, I think that I have entirely too much to remember and wonder if I've got a delete button somewhere, so I could get rid of the useless stuff. Then again, what criteria would I use to sort? Thanks for your wishes, jambaloney; I hope you and kymber weather the winter well.

That would be plenty close enough for me, SF!

Chickenmom said...

'Gotta admit - I still love the snow.
I complain about it, but secretly love every snowflake. What I don't like is when it does melt, everything turns to MUD.
I'll have a good post for 'ya tomorrow morning....

Ralph Goff said...

Winter and snow is a fact of life here and we learn to deal with it or else move somewhere else. Its not fun like it used to be though. Snow and shovels get heavier as time passes. Ice seems to get more slippery too. Dad had an uncle who used to say we get 9 months of winter and 3 months of poor sleighing.

Gorges Smythe said...

I don't much care for mud, either, Cm.

Ralph, when my sister and her husband moved to Florida, my brother-in-law said he traded three bad months and nine good ones for three good ones and nine bad ones. They eventually moved back.

Mamahen said...


Gorges Smythe said...

Yeah, sometimes I think I shouldn't use such language, Mh!

Mamahen said...