Day 35 – Living well in spite of Old Man Winter


It is a bright and stormy day in North Dakota today. Snow is falling and blowing around, and what little light comes through the clouds makes everything kind of blindingly white. As gloomy settings go, this isn’t highest on the list, but it is somewhat disheartening to see snow falling…again.

I saw did see something today that brightened my spirits quite a bit, and Sprouts day 2reminded me how large a difference one day can make. The seeds which were just barely noticeable in yesterday’s picture are now very apparent.

Today is going to be a mixture of crappy chores like paying bills and cleaning floors, but also a trip to the local Rambler’s Magic City Bike Show. It’s always fun to get out and see the motorcycles on display, and running into people I haven’t seen in a while.

The nice thing about being from North Dakota is you learn from a young age to respect our weather because it will kill you, but also how to live well in spite of it.

Today is a good example. It’s snowing and crappy outside. No doubt the roads will be extra slick with all of this new dry, fluffy snow falling. However, there is fun to be had and people to see on the other side of town. It would be easier to just stay put and putter around the house, but getting out is good for the soul. As long as there is decent visibility and clear roads there’s no good reason to let Old Man Winter win. You lose, you mean old bastard!

On the flip side, there is a certain coziness to just being in the house when the weather is icky. Maybe I’ll curl up with my latest crochet project later after the sun goes down.

Here’s hoping you find a way to live well, no matter what weather is thrown your way. Blessings and warm green thoughts to you all!

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Day 34 – Killing despair at the end of a North Dakota Winter


It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to write, and I am starting to think that it’s because I have so much rambling around in my head that I can’t begin to know how get it out in words. Sometimes there aren’t words to describe exactly what is going on in my head.

Most of my problem lately has been the weather. We’ve been blessed with two or three good warm spells, which have melted much of the snow that was dumped on us at the beginning of the Winter in December. That has been a big help, but Winter just can’t let Spring Owl - Nopego, and I wish he’d just pack it in and go to sleep for the season.

Just recently, we’ve had some awful storms in northern North Dakota and southern Saskatchewan. The amount of snow we got isn’t great in amount, but the winds whipping it around at 60+ mph is the real evil here. Minot didn’t get it so bad, but mostly everyone north of us did, and it’s ugly. People have dug their way out now, but it appears that we are getting more snow cold this week. As my favorite weather app (WTF Weather) tells me today, it’s “snotcicle weather”, with a low of -1, and a projected high of 10 above zero. That’s really not terribly cold, but we have been teased with 40-50 degree temps, which makes it feel cold all of a sudden.

I don’t want to give the false impression that we have been beleaguered by a long nasty winter, because we really haven’t. Our first real accumulation of snow came late in December with a whiz-bang blizzard, and we have been struggling along ever since, but to only have snow and cold from December through March is a gift. I’ve known years where our first blizzard comes in October and Winter keeps us in his grips right through some of April. When Old Man Winter stays around for so long, it gets really demoralizing. If I were to personify Winter, and I often do, I would guess that he likes it that way. Mean old bastard…

Why demoralizing? Well, for one thing, it’s painful. The cold makes your bones hurt, and when the weather changes and storms blow through it can cause throbbing aches which are hard to get rid of. That’s part of my problem now. I’m really done hurting all of the time. I would love nothing more than to just sit in the sunshine, soak the heat into my bones and be ache free. It was not lost on me that I didn’t hurt the whole time I was in Las Vegas, and when I came back to North Dakota the old aches just fell back into place. Wow…going somewhere else can make my knees stop hurting. Hmmm…food for thought.

Spring Sprouts

If you look really close, you can see little sprouts in the middle.

Something else I am keenly aware of is my need to be surrounded by greenery and things that I can nurture and grow.  I believe what happens when you grow things is that you plant a little hope with those seeds, and to watch them grow is very sustaining in times when regular daily life just isn’t. I’ve started some seeds on my kitchen table, and it’s nice to check on it daily to see the growth and change. This will tide me over until I can get outside to plant in my yard.

It is still only the middle of March, so it is not out of bounds to still have cold and stormy weather. However… we are witnessing the death throes of Winter, and the rattle and wheeze of his last days are loud. Underneath all of that complaining racket I can just hear Mother Nature plotting with Spring and Summer in whispers and grins of anticipation. Their time is coming, and the long wait is soon to be over.

Here’s hoping that your weather is just right. If it isn’t, just hold on…better weather is coming. Blessings all!

 

How Old Man Winter got Jack Frost grounded


It was a dark and stormy night last night.  You might think that we had a thunderstorm, being as it was the last day in April, but no. Yesterday we had a blizzard. It was a no hold’s barred, wind howling, snow flying, North Dakota Blizzard. There are still towns West and North of us that have no electricity due to the wind and ice damage to the electric poles and lines.

This is what I saw outside my back door last night:

I’ve stated before in previous posts that I felt that Old Man Winter has had all the fun he’s entitled to, and should be fired for taking too many liberties with his share of the year. I have to wonder what’s going on in Mother Nature’s realm that our weather has been so out of whack? Let’s take a peek into their world, shall we?

Mother Nature: “Jack! Could you come here for a minute please?”

Jack Frost: “Yes, Mother?”

Mother Nature (one eye brow raised, arms crossed): “Jack, what have I told you about playing with blizzards?”

Jack Frost (Sighs heavily): “You said not to because it causes imbalances in weather all over the world, not just in the area where the storm happens.”

Mother Nature (Other eyebrow raises): “And…?”

Jack Frost (Hangs head, one toe pushes around some lint on the carpet, mumbling):  “And, too much of one kind of weather over and over again wreaks havoc with the humans in that area and makes them suffer needlessly.”

Mother Nature (Hands on hips): “That’s right, you know better. So what gives? What’s your excuse for abusing our humans like that? For crying out loud, Jack, it’s April 30th! Not only are you messing with them, but now my time-table has to be pushed back.  How are people supposed to get out and celebrate Me with picnics and May Pole dancing tomorrow when they are knee-deep in snow drifts?! Not only that, but because the Winter Season has been unnaturally extended, the tornadoes got angry for being cooped up and went on a screaming rampage across the Southern States, en masse. What a MESS! Just what have you got to say for yourself?!”

Jack Frost (Frowning, and stomping a foot. Whines.):  “Well, Old Man Winter said the humans are there for us to play with. He was showing me how they scramble like ants when storms come. He says you spoil them and they need some toughening up!”

Mother Nature (Steam now rolling out of her ears): “Oh really? Jack, when I agreed to let you job shadow with Old Man Winter, it was only as long as you promised not to pick up his bad habits. He has a tendency to play with the humans as though they were expendable, and I’ve raised you to know better than that. (Shouting into the Ether) WINTER! Show yourself… You have some explaining to do!”

Old Man Winter (Pops into the room amidst a cloud of snowflakes): “What!? Why are you screaming at me during my lunch hour? Don’t you know that Days of our Lives is on, and it’s a big cliff-hanger this week. Marlena’s discovered she has another personality, and Roman was just about to find out when you started shouting…what’s so important it couldn’t wait?”

Mother Nature (takes a deep, cleansing breath): “Never mind the soap operas, I caught Jack playing with your Blizzards again. I distinctly remember telling you that he wasn’t allowed to play with your weather, he was just there to job shadow.  Speaking of which, your Season is far over extended. Why aren’t you paying attention to the time-table I sent you at the beginning of the year?”

Old Man Winter (Frowns and stomps his foot): “I’m tired of having to put my Season to bed for months on end. It’s so boring having to wait for all of the other Seasons to get out of the way so I can get back to business! Young Jack shows promise…he could be a big help to me in the event I want to take a vacation next year. Besides, you’re too soft on those humans…they need to toughen up.”

Mother Nature (Exasperated eye roll, heavy sigh. Her spine stiffens): “Ok, that’s it. I’ve had it! Jack, I think you’ve had enough job shadowing with Winter. For the next several decades, you will be helping me get things going in the Spring, and then you will understand why over extension of one Season into another causes problems for everyone. And, you’re grounded until you learn to respect ALL of my creatures, especially humans.”

Jack Frost (pouting fiercely): Aw, MOM!

Mother Nature (Sternly Shakes her finger): Don’t you give me any lip, young man.  As for you Winter, you’re done. Your Season’s over. Box up your weather for the next three Seasons and get ready for a nice loooong nap. You’ll be lucky if I allow you to let your weather out again before January next year.

Old Man Winter (Eyes glow stormily. Bushy white eyebrows rise up on his forehead): You can’t tell me what to do! I’m WINTER, and I’m not done…I have plans! You just watch, I’m gonna… (Mother Nature, lazily waves her hand in his direction)…ZZZZZZZ.”

Mother Nature (tiredly): Alright Jack, while I tuck Winter in for the next three Seasons, you get off to your room and don’t come out until breakfast tomorrow. We have a busy day ahead of us, and we’ll start out with how to make enough Sunshine to melt all that snow you threw down yesterday. Sheesh…what a disaster. I need a margarita!

So, today, apparently young Jack did get some schooling on how to make the Sun shine enough to melt snow. Below is the picture I took from my back door this afternoon. May Day actually turned out to be kind of nice after all. And, I spent it celebrating with friends. We didn’t get to have a picnic or dance around a May Pole, but it was just as great as if we did.

Old Man Winter isn’t done with us yet


We were spoiled for a while, having temperatures in the 40’s for over a week. The snow melted some, and the roads were cleared off. It was glorious to walk outside with the sun on our faces and feel like Spring was just around the corner.

And then, not.

I should have known better. It didn’t quite smell like Spring, even though it looked like it.

Yesterday Old Man Winter woke from his nap and realized he’d been falling down on the job. Now the cold is back and storms are all around us. Luckily we haven’t had it too bad where I live, but others are getting pounded. Here is where I find my blessing for today…I don’t have to dig out to go to work today.

In North Dakota, we essentially have two seasons: Winter and Construction. When the weather is warm enough, people are building and fixing things. With our booming economy, they are still building even though the weather is so cold. I hope someone gives the construction workers the day off today. Wind chills of -20 and lower would seem to warrant a day off from outside work, right?

Right?!

Here’s to hoping that Old Man Winter gets sleepy again soon and forgets that he has things to do…!

 

 

Something to look forward to


I was just sitting here thinking about the fact that I forgot to plug my van in overnight. That could be bad since, with windchill factored in, it was at least -20 last night. Oh well. It usually starts pretty well, and I’ve got high hopes that it will be ok this morning. I’ll just have to leave it running for a good long time before we leave for work and school today.

As I was thinking about that, I began to think about all the other extra stuff you have to do to survive when winter comes and I was appalled at what it entails. Luckily enough, there are blessings to be found everywhere:

1. Everyone needs a whole extra suit of cold weather gear, head to toe. Most years you just use what you had last year, but it must be maintained and items replaced as they wear out…kind of like a soft suit of armor. (Thank goodness I was able to afford to get the boys new jackets this year.)

2. You must plug your vehicle in when it gets cold, otherwise it may not start, and it requires a special heavy-duty extension cord that can withstand low temperatures. (The good news is that these are pretty cheaply found at The Big Box Store.)

3. Your vehicle must be winterized: make sure the engine is in good running order, change out bad wiper blades, and remember to stow away your blankets and winter survival kit. (Thank goodness we can make our vehicles go in the cold. I can’t imagine being cooped up all winter without being able to get anywhere.)

4. A specialized shovel is required to be able to move large amounts of snow out of the way. In many cases, people hurl the snow out of the way with snow blowers. (In my case, I am fortunate to have teenage boys to hurl my snow for me!)

5. Homes must be winterized. Special attention needs to be paid to windows, doors, and any other spots that may leak cold air inside. Any leaks must be caulked up, and if the window is old, it’s a good idea to cover the whole thing with plastic. (I’m so happy that I won’t have to put plastic on the windows this year…I’m getting them replaced!)

6. All travel plans made during the winter are tentative, subject to the weather. A good example is the storm that beginning to blow through the whole Northern region, preventing my brother and his family from traveling to my house for Thanksgiving. Curse you, Old Man Winter. (At least they will be safe and warm, and they have his wife’s family close by)

While there are many ways to feel blessed in the winter time, there is also something to look forward to: Spring!

It’s always such a relief to shuck the winter jackets, put away the shovels, and stow the sweaters. It’s such a blessing to step out of the house and feel the sun shine on more of your skin than the little bit of your face that isn’t covered up with a scarf. Just four more months!

A Winter Whiner Who’s Digging for Blessings in the Snow


It was inevitable that Winter would show up. We were so terribly spoiled with the beautiful Indian Summer we experienced this year, and it seemed like it could just go on forever. Just this weekend we were wearing shorts and no jackets. Today, we have four inches of snow on the ground, and blizzard conditions. Uff-da.

If Old Man Winter were real, I would have some words to share with him. I am quite sure that I wouldn’t ever say a large portion of those words in front of my Mother.

When I think of Old Man Winter, the picture in my mind’s eye is of a wizened, bitter old man who paces back and forth in his Ice Cave of Doom. He rubs his hands together slowly as he concocts the next big storm, and as he looks up you can see the hard, evil glint in his eye. He chortles menacingly. That’s right…there’s menacing chortling going on. How rotten is that? I’m also quite sure that Old Man Winter is a close relative of Murphy. They are quite a diabolical duo.

Could it be that I am personalizing my nemesis a little too much? Yeah…could be. Do I like winter? Only when it placid and gentle and picturesque, like a Currier & Ives picture.

Here I am having my own personal pity-party, complete with blizzard. So, in order to get my attitude out of the snow bank, I’m trying very hard to count my blessings today. The big one, sitting right on top of the pile, is that my parents made it home yesterday afternoon, just in the nick of time. They’d been traveling for three days to get home, and drove in just as the snow started to really blow. They looked so tired, but at least they are home and safe.

Now it’s time to go get out the shovels. Time for the winter cardio!