January 4, 2012

Now Is the Winter of My Discontent

On the second day of this new year, I plunged into the woods that make up part of our property and sawed a very large tree limb into roughly a dozen pieces.  The limb – more accurately, about a third of a tree – fell during our brush with Irene back in late August, and we have a policy that “what falls in the woods stays in the woods” unless it interferes with the sight lines from one of our windows.

I will freely admit that when we first noticed the limb, I made some kind of vague commitment that I would “do something about it, eventually”, which is commonly understood to mean that it will still be on my “to do” list in 2030. 

That's me, a year ago today, clearing away the newest
foot of snow.  This morning, there's nothing but lawn.
For me, the saving grace of most such promises is the advent of winter.  Once there’s a foot of snow on the ground, outdoor chores are reduced to one or two bouts of cutting firewood.  The wonderful thing about a good, old-fashioned New England winter is that five months of Mother Nature acting on something as ephemeral as a tree limb eliminates the problem without me having to break a sweat.  Come next spring, the problem would have mostly solved itself.

But this is – at least so far – the snowless winter, except for a cruel October storm that raised all sorts of false hopes about record snowfalls (and left much of New England without power for a week).  All the autumn chores that I put off with the full expectation of getting a pardon once the snow pack was knee deep are still out there, beckoning me.  Instead of curling up with a book on New Year’s Day, I spent an hour cutting down the ornamental grasses that should, by all rights, have been flattened by now.  This is patently unfair.

And, if you remember back just one year, we all spent the week between Christmas and New Years digging out from a pair of back-to-back storms that dumped nearly three feet of the white stuff across the region.  Once that snow was in the record books, all I had to do was point to the snow banks and wince a little bit about having pulled a muscle wielding our snow blower, and I was excused from all chores.  I got a lot of reading (and writing) done last winter.

This year I walk out to the mailbox and see the pile of branches that really needs to get taken to the town dump.  Out back, there is a mat of leaves on walkways that ought to get raked so that moisture can better seep down into the ground.  The list of uncompleted autumn chores is endless.

Somewhere out there is an Alberta Clipper that is going to merge with some warm, muggy moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.  They’re going to collide somewhere over Pennsylvania and shoot northeast.  When that happens, we’re going to get buried.  I, for one, can’t wait.

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