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Learning to love snow again. December 11, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Growing up as a child in Nashville, I loved snow. We only got snow a few times a winter, and when it snowed, everything simply stopped. No school, no work, no anything until the snow melted in a day or two and life resumed as usual. The idea of snow plows, snow shoveling, and the like was inconceivable. Everybody just stayed home.

These instant vacations, combined with the beauty and novelty of the snow, were like mini-heavens. My siblings and I would rush outside and play; we even had a little sled for the hill behind our house. (But we had to keep an eye on it, since if we left it unattended at the top of the hill, our cocker spaniel would hop on and sled to the bottom by himself.) We gathered bowls of the newly fallen snow to make “snow cream,” mixing in milk, vanilla and sugar for a luscious homemade “snow cone.” Good times!

My view of snow changed drastically when I moved North. Driving through snow, and even blizzards, to get to work is my definition of terror. My commute was 1/2 hour on good days; it could take a lifetime in bad weather, and of course, every mile seemed an eternity. Pulling into intersections with no visibility due to 9-foot mounds of ploughed snow; having to shovel my car out from a four-foot embankment of packed ploughed snow; having to catch planes for my job in hazardous snow and ice conditions: I grew to hate and dread snow.

But it wasn’t just a matter of continuously risking my life and giving myself adrenaline poisoning. Snow could, and often did, bring power outages: No light, no heat, no running water or flushing, and always (of course) in the freezing cold. I stopped seeing the beauty of snow and saw it only as a threat. Not even the sight of my ecstatic golden retriever, Molly, running around joyously making snow circles, could thaw me out: Being pulled over a few times while walking her in the snow simply underlined the threat. What if I broke my leg/neck/etc. and was left lying out there for hours before someone found me?

To this day, I remain a terrified snow driver and will do everything possible to avoid venturing out when it’s snowing or the roads aren’t cleared. But fortunately, as I realized during our first winter snowstorm two days ago, other things have changed. The biggest is that I now work from home, so I don’t have to venture out and brave bad weather. Instead, I can stand at the back deck door or by the front windows and watch the snow drift down, coating the branches and the ground in confectioner’s sugar, with the same appreciation and wonder I felt as a child.

And yes, a power outage could still kill our lights, heat, and plumbing. But our friend Ben and I have built up a stock of battery-operated lanterns, have installed an efficient woodburning stove as a backup (and always keep a cord of wood, dry and protected, on hand), have plenty of bottles of spring water for drinking, and recycled gallon jugs of tap water for flushing.

I always keep plenty of food staples on hand, for us and our pets and outdoor birds, and keep paper plates, bowls, and plastic utensils on hand just in case. (Fortunately, we have a gas stove, which we can light with matches if the power goes off, so food isn’t an issue.) Oh, and I have a pair of heavy-duty snow boots that will keep me upright even when taking out our rambunctious, gigantic black German shepherd, Shiloh.

Even if none of these precautions are needed—though, trust me, they often have been—they make me feel safer and better prepared. And that lets me relax and enjoy the snow rather than dreading it.

So this week, I really enjoyed our first snow. It was beautiful falling, and it’s still beautiful. I may not be rushing out to go sledding or make snow cream. But I’ve spent a lot of time looking out at our beloved winter birds at the feeders, and the snow-frosting on the branches, and thinking about how snow has transformed our yard into a magical wonderland, as the bright sun and blue sky provide the perfect lighting. This may be the best Christmas gift yet!

‘Til next time,




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