Winter Respite

My post-shoveling shadow

Winter can be beautiful, at least in small doses. Who doesn’t love the look of brilliant sunshine on that white, sparkling snow coating the ground, the trees and the shrub branches? Of course, in my current semi-ancient years, the shoveling part of frosty weather is not as appealing as my youthful activities of yore like snowball fights or making snow angels. I also don’t recall worrying as much about slipping and falling back then as I do now. Driving in snowy and icy conditions isn’t too fabulous either. Who needs the anxiety about sliding into another vehicle or being the accidental target of another? Plus, that glistening beauty? It turns gray and dingy pretty fast if you live in an urban area. And then there’s the necessity for piling on layers of protection from freezing temperatures. Barely being able to move loses its novelty pretty fast. Truthfully the past few winters where I live have been fairly mild, so a few recent arctic blasts have felt oppressive. During the past twenty-four hours, my part of the world experienced a weather whiplash, a fifty degree temperature change from mild to bone-chilling. A few weeks ago another major storm caused a myriad of cancellations and power outages. Today’s weather event moved faster, with fewer inches of snow accumulating on the ground but significantly more ice and freezing winds. Tomorrow morning I’ll be shoveling again. I often think about the advantages of apartment living. All this outdoor labor would be someone else’s job instead of mine. Truthfully though, I consider myself lucky to be wielding my ergonomically correct shovel as my 71st birthday approaches this spring. Not everyone in my age group can still tackle this job.

Today I stayed home, not exactly novel during the past few pandemic years. Periodically I looked out the windows, marveling at the intensity of the wind and the remarkable ability of the resident birds who negotiate these harsh conditions. Outdoor living is tough. I’m glad that my yard provides sustenance for so many species in every season, except for the relentlessly thieving squirrels whose purpose in my ecosystem still eludes me.

Squirrel sitting in the bird feeder

In the next couple of weeks, the crocuses will make their appearance in the garden, along with the snowdrops. I’m hopeful that as the cold weather wanes, this spring will bring the same colorful varieties of migratory birds who showed up at my feeders last year. And of course I always am eager to welcome the cascade of perennials that follow the early bloomers. I thought that I’d browse through my photos from last spring and early summer to give myself a winter respite. I felt like I’d taken a mini-vacation. Here’s a selection for your viewing pleasure.

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