Thursday, March 10, 2011

ice skating

so it goes with winter. we are hit with flurries, sleet and ice, blizzards and whiteouts. we withstand howling winds that snatch at our clothes and slap our skin red. going outside requires preparation and time. it is a struggle, a daily chore, to defend our vulnerable bodies with boots, underarmour, smartwool socks, l. l. bean fleece jackets, ski jackets, a shirt or two, wool hats, scarves that wrap 'round and 'round, and fleecey gloves. this is basic survival gear for a maine winter.

i am not complaining. as i've said countless times, i like winter. i like the challenge (just how tough am i?) of suiting up in layers to prepare for the intake of lung-numbing frozen air. i like when i am the solitary witness, wrapped in all the previously mentioned clothes, of the pristine, unmarked white beauty left by a northeaster. to those who have no concept of the lovliness of winter in a place like maine, who see snow as a threat, a bother, an interruption of life, who spend their lives fighting winter and cursing it, there is nothing i can say to highlight the positive aspects of this time of year. (i must confess, however, that as i write these words it is in the rather balmy (to maine people) high 30's and raining! i am very ready for warmer temperatures, the big spring melt, and even the mud that comes with it, which are all oh-so-close.)

don't think for a second, though, that i only see winter as some kind of dreamy wonderland. ha! winter is a balancing act. if we slip we fall, and end up bruised and broken. if you'd come over to our house during the last month you'd have had to put on your ice skates first. our driveway was an ice skating rink, with some bumps and ridges, where it circled the mighty white pine and headed down to the road. ice is fun, but it can also be dangerous if we don't select a path carefully and put our feet down cautiously.

winter is scary. during the ice storm in january, 1998, we lived without power for five days, like pioneers, sharing our dim rooms with gloomy shadows cast by burning candles, and hovering over a searing woodstove, staying warm, alive. outside in the woods at night a war raged. giant ice chunks crashed down from the trees, taking huge shrieking limbs with them, the sound in the cold midnight air reverberating like enemy gunfire.

we walk on thin ice during a maine winter, gaging the thickness out of the corner of our eyes, watching for cracks and openings on the surface, waiting and listening for it to give way and swallow us up.....

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