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