I’m lucky

view upstairs
out the living room window

I am really lucky. Last year, my wife & I decided to concentrate our efforts on things we really believed in, contrary to some of our actions at that time. So I quit my job, and we began home-schooling the kids this past fall. A large part of my income is from travelling to teach workshops, but some of it happens here at home. I’m lucky that so far, we can get away with it. So far. It could go bad at any time.

What does this have to do with the weather? Simple. I have always liked winter. But I used to complain loudly about summer heat & humidity. One beastly summer day I decided that if I kept up complaining about it, then there were odds that each year, for upwards of maybe 15-20 or so days, I’d be in a bad mood right off the bat. Seems stupid to let something so out of my control steer my days, so I quit feeling that way. Threw the switch in my head that said “I hate this…” and  just slowed down on humid days, and expected things to take longer than “ordinary”.

But as long as I can remember, I have liked shoveling the snow. In the storms we’ve had this past month, it’s been great work. Hard physical work, that warms you up on a winter day. Bright fresh air like no other time of year, and almost no traffic. quiet like we don’t often get around here. I had a very nice offer from a neighbor the other day – “I can bring my snowblower over & get this done quickly.” – I thanked her, and told her I was lucky, I don’t have to go anywhere for a few weeks. I can take my time & spread this work out. Didn’t have to do it all today,…thanks just the same. It took some convincing, she offered too to have her husband sweep through with the plow. Nope – thanks, it’s OK. Really, it’s all right. I told her if it was wet snow, I’d take her up on it. That made her feel better.

People just can’t conceive that I might like this. The kids were out playing in the snow, the bird feeders were busy as all get out. There were hawks circling high overhead. The sky was blue like no other. It was fine really. I am lucky. Temporarily able-bodied, one person once said. While that’s the case, I’m going to enjoy it. I work at it til I’m tired, then I rest. There’s a lot to take in…dark-eyed juncos, (Thoreau’s “snowbird”) everywhere, common goldeneye in the river; a little wren working its way in & out of the ivy on the side of the house. The kids romping in the snow. When I start to get cold, then I know it’s time to work again. I understand other folks have different challenges and that this weather makes it hard for them. But I am sure that many are just complaining out of habit, rather than hardship. If they could just throw that switch in their heads…

I am lucky. I don’t have to be anywhere. I’m not complaining.

view downstairs
view from downstairs

goldeneye 2




17 thoughts on “I’m lucky

  1. I’m up a bit North of you in Arlington, MA. There’s maybe a bit more urgency to the shoveling, as we all depend on each other to clear our walks so people can get about. Of course as dense as our neighborhoods are, there’s no open spaces to shovel the snow into, so you keep piling it higher and higher and higher. Living on a corner lot can be especially frustrating, as you no sooner cut your way through to the street as a plow comes by and pushes at the snow, packing it high and dense right over your handiwork.

    Then again, I’ve never had a hard time with heat and humidity, least not compared to the cold and the snow. I like how it feels when every pore of your skin opens up – it can feel like all the built up muck of life is getting flushed out of my system – leaving me clean, my muscles refreshed, and my body twenty years younger.

  2. Thank you Peter! I’m one of those guys who complains about the cold and snow. I’m gonna try to take a different approach though

  3. I’m used to snow with Maine roots. But DC gets its fair share

    Now I’m in Richmond va…. The south and we’re getting a foot.

    All hells broken loose. Pandemonium

    Dogs and cats living together – mass hysteria

  4. Peter, I grew up in Wisconsin and love shoveling snow. My neighbor across the street even noticed my enthusiasm for it. Some days I make a game of seeing how quickly I can clear our sidewalk compared to my snow-belching neighbors. It’s a great workout and an inspiring way to start a morning. The silence is wonderful.

  5. Important thoughts beautifully expressed, Peter. There is a richness to time and effort that can’t be measured by a clock.

    The snow shoveling part reminded me of Thoreau’s story in Walden regarding traveling to Fitchburg by walking or by train. When my kids were younger, my wife and I read them a children’s book called “Henry Hikes to Fitchburg” by D.B. Johnson based upon that reference. D.B. Johnson has a few other books in the same “Henry….” series.

  6. … this latest storm HAS been a delight to shovel, and I too feel strangely grateful to do it. The air IS incomparably crisp and lovely. A few days ago — that first blue-sky day in forever — we saw the sun track cloudlessly from one horizon to the other. Gorgeous!

  7. Then in today’s Boston Globe, an article about how (some) men love their snowblowers – including this quote: “____ ____, a real estate broker in North Haven, Conn., put red stripes on his old orange snow blower. Two years ago, he bought a larger black machine and is considering putting metallic grey stripes on it. But what he loves most about his snow blower, beyond its ability to move snow, is the noise it makes.

    “I guess I like loud,” said _____, who blew away 3 inches of snow on his driveway yesterday. “Everything is so beautiful and peaceful and I am ruining the effect of it all by turning the machine on and blowing snow. It irritates the neighbors I am sure. But they all have blowers too so we just irritate each other.”

    For THREE INCHES of snow! If I remove that, I use a broom. maybe…

  8. Bet a lot of those people with blowers need to clear their driveways so that they can get to the gym for a workout.
    But that wasn’t really your point, eh! I don’t have to shovel snow, if we get any it is wet and I just roll it out of the way, but I delimb cypress and pine with an axe, clear brambles and bracken with a slasher (bill hook) and now that you’ve shown me how to hew … When I get immersed in a rhythmic task I find my awareness moves out to encompass the surrounding area and sooner or later I start to hum. I use power tools in their place but avoid the noise and fumes if I can. Besides,there is a huge amount of satisfaction in achieving a task by the sweat of one’s brow.

  9. Hi Peter!

    I admit I’ve been cursing you lucky New Englanders for all your snow these last couple weeks. In DC, we’ve only just had our first snow, and only about 6 inches where I am.

    It was great to get out and shovel after waiting all winter! Doesn’t hurt the Federal Gov’t was shut down, so there was no rush to it. I had such a good time,I shoveled out my 2 neighbors as well!

    Anyways, here’s to snowfall that can be shoveled, and to having the time available to enjoy the task!


  10. Plows leave big piles of snow and tear up the ground. Snow blowers leave an unatural looking landscape. Hand shoveled sidewalk always looks the best .

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