Archives for posts with tag: winter

This week we saw grass for the first time in months. Snow mold spotted our yard like bits of fur or feathers from a hawk attack. I’ve got that bird on my mind since I walked around the front of the house last week to see him sitting on our brick walkway. We stared at each other for a moment, this hawk and I – a moment longer than felt comfortable – before he flew up to perch on the street light. He stayed there while I chopped at the ice, made a path for the draining snow, and thought about the grass underneath.

Last night seven inches of snow buried all that work. All that grass and mold and possibility. Minneapolis, yet again, is covered. Even this lovely new sculpture by physicist turned artist, Julian Voss-Andreae, has been engulfed:

Spannungsfeld-MN

No one in my office is talking about snow. Usually, as good Midwesterners should, we like to talk about the weather. It shapes our lives, our thoughts, our concept of reality. This winter has sapped that desire to discuss and dissect. Snow is no longer interesting or beautiful or festive. Snow is oppressive. There is nothing more to say.

We’ll talk about the next kind of weather when it arrives. Just wait for that first thunderstorm, that first clap of thunder. You won’t be able to shut us up. God that sounds nice.

We are on the threshold of spring, the edge of that conversation. I hope.

The first phase of spring arrived in Minneapolis last week. Not the kind of spring most of the country would recognize. We won’t see tulips and patio beers and open window Saturdays for months. This part of spring is kind of gross.

Our layers of snow and ice have begun to melt. Lakes of brown slush form at each intersection and in potholes big enough to separate a tire from your car. Mountains of snow relinquish the odd objects they’ve swallowed throughout the winter: hubcaps, bits of trash, tree branches, a single shoe.

With this melt, our sweet poodle could finally get a long overdue haircut. The first in three months. We waited so long (too long) because we couldn’t bear to remove those curls. We couldn’t bear to see her tiny body shiver before we’ve walked even halfway around the block. She needed those curls to keep her warm through this hellish winter.

I give you the poodle, before and after:

Haircut

Our fluffy lion turns into a delicate deer.

We’re currently sitting at -7 here in Minneapolis:

weather

The sun is out; clean white puffs of steam rise from homes and office buildings. Looking out my window (and not at the weather readings on my computer or phone) the day has promise. The air doesn’t look deadly. You can’t see the wind that will rip at your cheeks and wrists and find its way between the seams of your clothes.

I’m not sure how much more I can take.

On days like this, this wife drives me to the bus stop. We sit in the car and wait until the bus comes over the hill. She’s a good and patient wife. I’m lucky. Even from the depths of this winter misery I know that.

As the bus arrives at the University, the chatter falls silent. Hearty Minnesotans around me prepare for battle. Sleeves pulled over mittens. Scarves wrapped. Hats replaced. Hood pulled up. There is weight to their shoulders, a reluctance to exit the comparable warmth of the city bus.

bus

At least in this melancholy there is a little beauty in stoicism.

We hit twenty degrees by noon today and rejoiced. The poodle even found a stick within the waist high snowpack.

image

That’s one saving grace of subzero,  Polar Vortex weather; even below freezing weather feels promising. This glimpse of the future, this dose of hopefulness makes a little more winter seem bearable.

Just a little more though. Ok, mother nature?

Yesterday I only left the house to shovel. The poodle helped. She lunged after each scoop of snow, chasing them into the yard where she sunk above her neck before racing back to catch the next scoop mid-air. When she was thoroughly snow covered I sent her inside. She watched in style as I finished the front walk:

shirley-snow

The sky was blue in Minneapolis – that winter kind of blue, sharper than seems normal – but the wind howled and drifted snow steadily over my morning’s work. We curled up to nap and read, the poodle pressing every possible inch of her body against my wife’s leg, absorbing her warmth. The wind rattled our windows and crept through crevices. For a moment I could imagine that our house stood alone on the prairie, nothing to protect us. Only for a moment.

We were warm.

Walking to the bus stop this morning I came to a crosswalk with a waist high snow-berm. A tiny mountain created by man and weather. Six inches of snow added to our already healthy snowpack this week and, without the chance to melt, there is nowhere to put it. Homeowners shovel their sidewalks, the city plows the street, and the crosswalks are fucked.

No one is to blame.

Across the street from the tiny mountain, the homeowner had carved a shovel’s width path through the mountain. I walked luxuriously through like a carefree summer version of myself. Nothing more than a dusting of snow between my boots and concrete.

I’m not sure what the standards are for crosswalks but from the climbing adventures around my neighborhood, I’m guessing there is no legal requirement to keep them clear. And I don’t blame the homeowners. Or the city. I wouldn’t want to hack through the ice formations that snow plows and mother nature conspire to create.

I am, however, quite grateful for those corner houses who look out for those of us walking around in this miserable weather. Thanks, friends.

My fitness motivation has a tendency to wax and wane. Christmas and winter and warm brownies and a cuddly hibernating poodle and the Polar Vortex sent me into a serious waning phase. When I come home from work all I want to do is sit on the couch. My body collapses before I even have a chance to argue. It’s bad folks. My pants don’t fit like they did a few months ago. I’ve become less flexible. It takes me six days to recover from my one weekly workout.

What I should have learned from this: NOT working out causes me to suffer.

What I HAVE learned: Working out is the worst and sitting on my couch is the best. I mean look at that awfulness:

Ok. It wasn't so bad.

Ok. It wasn’t so bad.

But I’m not quitting. Not yet.

Crossfit has been one fitness plan I’ve been able to stick to since leaving the military. Since ever. I’m much more likely to succeed if someone just tells me what to do. When I don’t show up for a week, or two, I’ll hear about it. My gym-friends will tease me, the coach will laugh at my excuses, and we’ll all bitch about the way winter can suck out your soul. Then we’ll lift some heavy thing and raise our heart rates and all feel a little better about ourselves. I need that. I need to remember how easy that can be.

Just lift that weight up. Just get your ass to the gym. Easy. Wish me luck tonight… I make no promises.

The sweet Swedish forecaster here in Minneapolis said we wouldn’t break zero today. Even our optimistic, south-facing thermometer agreed. Worry not, dear reader, we planned ahead.

The plan today was to simply not leave the house. Errands all completed yesterday. Weekly meals planned. Walk and driveway shoveled. Car washed. Books and puzzles at the ready. Like a couple of good Midwesterners we were ready for a snow day. Even the poodle doesn’t seem to mind:

lazyday

This kind of shut in day is my best argument for winter. My best argument for a Midwestern life.

We have no guilt about staying in. This is a rational hermitage. Our only logical choice, really. This is for our safety. Frostbite can occur within a matter of minutes in these conditions (don’t google pictures of that malady, just trust me on this one.)

A life in a milder climate doesn’t allow for such extremism. A day like this would feel like a waste in kinder weather. You should mend that fence or walk the dog a little farther or simply get your lazy ass off the couch. Not me. I’m just gonna sit here.

When it’s 22 degrees next week maybe I’ll wear shorts.

Last week I had a beast of a cold. The kind that knocks you out and fills your brain with mush. This was also the week before my honeymoon. A week earmarked for healthy living and vigorous exercise. I fully intended to go to crossfit all of the days. Instead, I slept and slept and slept. The poodle helped:

shirley-sun

Midweek I thought, – “Hey, I’m not so sick. I’ll go to crossfit.” I went. We did front squats, broad jumps, lunges: all of the things that make my legs turn to jelly. It’s amazing how mind over matter can work; I dragged myself to the gym so I was able to do the workout. Maybe I didn’t lift as much, maybe I didn’t jump as far but I did it.

Should I have done it? That’s another question.

I have a hard time distinguishing between real sickness and something more akin to mental fatigue. Am I really sick or is it the weather or the time change? Maybe I don’t feel well because I want to be hibernating. As an adult I should know better. I should listen to my body when it begs to curl up next to the dog when I should be going to work. I should take the colorful snot as a sign of sickness, not a seasonal decoration. I should but I don’t always.

At any rate, I’m feeling much better now. Thanks Alka-Seltzer! (seriously try this stuff, it’s so underrated)

That little flower on the header of my blog grew into a beast of a potted plant last spring. More leaves and stems than flowers – leaves so dense I wanted to stand on the terracotta pot just to feel how strong they really were.

Don’t worry I didn’t.

I grew flowers and tomatoes and brussel-sprouts and basil and lavender and a failed cauliflower. All on my little deck. This year, if winter ever ends, I’m going to grow more than seems necessary. Eggplants, cucumbers, tomatoes, spices, squash, snap peas, I don’t know what else, too much but still not enough. In a garden box. A raised bed in the ground.

I’m going to grow enough so I forget winter.

%d bloggers like this: