I am perched in my office on the second floor of our house. Surrounded by windows on three sides, I am sitting in a snow globe that some child is shaking manically. The wind swirls the snow, sways the tall tree branches, and whistles. The yard, the woods, my driveway–all are blanketed in mounds of white cotton. We are in the middle of a snow storm.
Earlier in the week, I prepared for the “Blizzard of 2015,” stocking up on necessities like coffee and dog food. I’ve learned that the stores get rather busy just before a storm. People rush out to buy staples like milk and bread, emptying the shelves of the local markets. People fill up the tanks of their cars. People take out as much cash as they can from ATMs. (I needed cash yesterday and went to two different ATMS, only to find both unable to give cash. And since this is a small local bank, these machines probably won’t be filled before Tuesday morning). When the snow fall is heavy, I sometimes feel like I am never going to get back out into the world.
Outside, the world is quiet. Somewhere the local herd of deer is hunkered down. The squirrels have retreated to their treetop nests. The fox is snug in his den. Nothing moves out there except the street plows. It is a hostile world and yet it is beautiful.
I wonder how the early settlers managed during these winter storms. No one was plowing the streets. No one had a giant snow blower. Someone had to get out of the house to feed the livestock or bring in the firewood. Our dogs run out to take care of business but run right back in. The beagle, who normally saunters around the yard checking for intruders, doesn’t even want to leave the deck. I shoveled a path off the deck this morning, but you wouldn’t know that now.
In a way, the snowstorm has a calming effect. I can’t go anywhere. I can only be. After a hectic month this may be what I need. The New Year started with my husband going to northern California to help his mom pick out a senior complex. It was time, his family decided, that his mother live where she can get daily help. Two weeks later, my mother was in the hospital for five days. It turned out not to be too serious but I spent my time shuttling my dad who no longer drives back and forth to the hospital. Then I learned that my fifteen year old beagle has a tumor on his spleen. It might be malignant; it might be benign. We’ll never know because his surviving the surgery is a longshot. He’s on anti-inflammatories. I can give pain medication as needed. Since he started the anti-inflammatory meds, he’s back to his usual crotchety self. Juggling all this meant that I fell behind in setting up a photo exhibit in the library. With the help of friends, I finally finished this week. Even now I am supposed to be in Northern California, helping my sister in law pack up mom’s house. But my flight has been cancelled twice the last two days. Staring out the window, I wonder if I’m ever going to get off the ground.
Then I start thinking about shoveling, raking the snow off the roof, salting the pathways and driveway. Sometimes I need to get away. A real get away would be Hawaii but that’s not going to happen. Dude understands this need to get away. A few weeks ago he took off again. I let the dogs out around 6:30 in the evening. They all came in, except Dude. I forgot he was out there. Until bedtime. At 10 pm, I realize that I am missing a dog. I go outside and call. He doesn’t respond. My stomach flops. It’s going to be a cold night and he’s a short hair dog. He’s wearing a field collar with a locator that beeps when you press the remote. The beeping sound calls Dude back to me but wherever he’s gone, he’s not responding. And even though he has wandered off before, he isn’t wearing a collar with my phone number on it. My daughter and her boyfriend get in his truck and drive around the neighborhood, pressing the locator button on the remote and listening for his collar. He’s less than a mile from the house. The next day he took off again. But I understand. Once in a while you have to leave home. Check things out. Appreciate what you have.
And sometimes it’s good to sit by the fire and read a good book.