It snows all weekend, a warm snow that accumulates slowly but eventually piles to eight inches or more. For only the second time this winter, I plow the driveway, the wet snow rolling into huge balls as I push it with the tractor. I like plowing snow, though I liked it more when we had a plow truck and I could drink coffee and listen to music as I plowed, continually rubbing away the condensation that formed on the inside of the windshield no matter how high I ran the defroster. And I liked it even better back when the boys were small and would ride along, laughing at the sudden stops and starts, already attuned to the thrill of wielding powerful machinery. Plowing with the tractor is slower, less comfortable, and lonelier – no coffee, no music, no heat, no windshield, no sons – but it beats a shovel by a country mile.
By Monday morning, the temperature has dropped. The cold, aided by a steady breeze, has dried out the snow. It always amazes me how that happens. Again I ski along the mountain ridge, but this time I go further, time and again passing the point I’ve identified as my turn around. The snow is so good. It whispers under my skis. The trees emit cracks and pops in the cold. It’s almost a conversation.
I pass a large paper birch, half-chewed through by beaver and still standing, but otherwise see no signs of wildlife, hear no birdsong. Everyone hunkered down, I guess. Funny to think of them in their snowbound worlds, uninterrupted by the virus, unconcerned with events that I can’t seem stop reading about, even when I know what good it does me. Which is not too bloody much. Again and again I pledge to not look at the news upon waking; again and again I look at the news upon waking. Coffee on the woodstove, the splintering world caught in the computer on my lap. If only it would stay there, though sometimes it seems that if I simply refused to lend it my attention, it would. I know it’s wishful thinking.
Finally I turn back. The snow still whispering. The trees still cracking and popping. The half-chewed birch still standing, though the closer I look, the more tenuous it seems. So I hurry on, not at all wanting to be crushed when it comes crashing down.