Saturday, January 13, 2007

slow dance with winter

last year, winter was in a good mood, almost the whole time she stayed. granted, she's far too vain to ever see that she's worn out her welcome, and always overstays. but last year she did a gentle slow dance with us, trailing lacey skirts and soft white furs, diamonds and pearls over the landscape, coaxing us out to admire and play with her. and, fools that we are, knowing full well how fickle and untrustworthy she has proven herself in the past, we nonetheless fall for her deceitful charms.

we approached her this year, trustingly, eager to play. but this year she's in a foul, foul mood. she taunts and torments, mocks and threatens. she began with rain - and fooled us into thinking she was in a mild frame of mind again. this was immediately followed by heavy layers of snow to hide her icy treachery. more smiles and rain, then the deep freeze; more snow; more rain; more snow. the rain stops, she smiles seductively and purrs, "the skiing is fabulous, dahling. come and play". no sooner do we succumb to her ploys than her clear blue skies send the mercury plummeting so fast you can hear it bounce in the bulb at the bottom of the thermometer.

very early last Thursday morning, after being snowed in and unable to travel to work on Wednesday, i waded through drifts to my armpits to shovel my little old Ford truck (as she's red, a friend has dubbed her Rudolph, the red-nosed Ranger)out of the driveway. then it was... drive till i get stuck, shovel out, drive till i get stuck, shovel out, etc. 1/2 dozen times or so in the 3 blocks to the main road, which had been plowed. though it was -29 C, i was dripping with sweat. and though i'd started at 7 a.m. and it's normally a 15 minute trip, it was 8:30 before i got to the office. if i hadn't had the foresight (and $) to put good winter tires on last autumn, i'd never have got there. and, of late, i go NOWHERE without my snow shovel.

and it's a good 2 months before things can be expected to even begin to melt.


Thursday, January 04, 2007



blogger is messing with my head again.... just spent an hour writing, and got zapped into outer cyberspace.... arghh!

i am resolved

it's been an eventful year. i always feel philosophical at this time of year (well, maybe at all times of the year, but especially when the year is new) it's just after 4:30 p.m. and the sun is going down, painting the sky out my window with a gorgeous watercolor wash. we have spectacular sunrises and sunsets here. i like to think it's old Sol's way of apologising for not staying long each winter's day. he comes up with a crescendo, an exquisitely slow fanfare that builds to an ecstasy of color all over the land, and goes away gently, like a lover's long, wistful kiss - loathe to part, and promising to return soon.

i like new year's resolutions. they make me think about what i like about my life, and what i don't like. if there isn't enough of the good stuff, or if there's too much of the bad stuff, i'm not happy. so new year's is a time for me to think about the state of my world, and what i can do about it. perhaps resolutions have got a bad rap because people are unrealistic about them. there's something about a whole new year spreading ahead of us that's inspiring and daunting at the same time - like a clean sheet of paper, waiting for words or color, or music. so we get a bit over-ambitious. with our cultural background of immediate gratification and 'bigger is better', we make resolutions based on what we've been told we should want, instead of what we can realistically achieve and contribute. we often make promises to ourselves based on superficial things, not on things that will make the world a better place, and us, in the end, happier people.

a few years ago i resolved to lose weight. i was 40 lbs or more overweight, depressed and unhealthy. it seemed that the slightest strain or upset resulted in sprains and injuries, and i was tired all of the time. i had also developed repetetive stress injuries from practicing my violin. i'd been very active for most of my life, but i'd become sedentary. to make a long story shorter, it occurred to me that at least some of my problems might be alleviated by taking some of the load off my joints and getting back some muscle tone. so i started walking, swimming, cycling, weight training and planning my meals more carefully. over the course of those several years i've lost 30 of those pounds, and i'm confident that the last 10 will follow. i like my new lifestyle. i'm strong, healthy, energetic and, for the most part, content. it was only one resolution, but it's taking longer than one year to accomplish. and that's just fine. because the issue is quality of life, over the long term. there is no instant fix.

having just helped with a biodiesel conference in our town, environmental issues are fresh in my mind. i live in a community where these things are not taken seriously. but i take them seriously. so i am resolved that my lifestyle must reflect the things i claim to believe in. the footprint i'm leaving is bigger than the creature who leaves it, and it cuts too deeply. i believe one person can, and should make a difference.

so i'm making plans for some big changes. firstly, i'll move to the town where i work, where i can walk to the office instead of commuting. it's undecided whether i'll sell my lovely little renovated church in its country village, or rent it out. though it's small by today's standards, it is far too big for one lone woman. it wants a family sitting noisily around the table or roasting marshmallows over the campfire in the back yard. the maple trees in the yard call out for children to swing from their branches, and hang hammocks from them. the greenhouse produces more food than i can eat and give away. i'll buy a smaller house here, and begin learning how to get some, at least, of my energy needs from alternative sources. there's an inkling of an idea for a small part-time business producing, selling and promoting goods made from local materials ... perhaps first at the local farmer's market... once all the ingredients are all in the pot of thought, and the soup of ingenuity has had time to simmer, something tasty may result.

i resolve to be more in the present, doing the creative things that strengthen and deepen me, and less controlled by the demands of others. i have begun using my coffee breaks at work to draw - two fifteen minute sketches a day, every weekday. perhaps i'll alternate drawing with writing. Lindsay Lobe has suggested joining a writer's group. i'll take his advice, and be disciplined about my craft. i have whole scribblers of ideas and outlines for stories, plays, magazine articles and books nagging me to write them. published or not, the only shame is in not trying.

i'm a list maker. so i'll make a list of the things i mean to spend my time on, the skills i want to develop, with realistic goals for each of them. i'll post it on the refridgerator in my new home, where it will remind me to be faithful, and not fickle. and i'll keep it short, and realistic. more discipline.

this spring i'll celebrate my 50th birthday full of plans and ideas and hopes for the future. after all, 50 is the new 30!