Snow-Bound

February 3, 2011

in Our Farm

“And, when the second morning shone,
We looked upon a world unknown,
On nothing we could call our own.
Around the glistening wonder bent
The blue walls of the firmament,
No cloud above, no earth below,—
A universe of sky and snow!”

John Greenleaf Whittier, Snow-Bound

Have you ever read this wonderful poem? I was assigned it in college some ten years ago, and I distinctly remember skipping over parts of it because I thought it was so damn long. But keep in mind, back then, snow to me was a mere concept, as was the very idea of being snow-bound. How could I, a child of the desert, have understood the magnificent, awe-inspiring power of the blizzard? How could I relate to the comfort of a crackling wood fire amidst rattling window panes and the howling wind?

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I couldn’t have possibly imagined the necessity of digging a tunnel through the solid whiteness to reach “the prisoned brutes” (a.k.a. farm animals in need of feeding), a tunnel both magical and back-breaking.

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Compelled by the storm that blasted parts of the country for the past two nights, I pulled out a volume of American verse and read said poem in its entirety, all in a matter of minutes. No longer foreign, it read like it was written about me.

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Except my tunnel didn’t really get anywhere because I hit a wall of snow where there once was a driveway and now is a glacier. I figured I’d wait till the plows came. But after two days of drifting snow, neither our snow-plowing neighbor, nor the snow-removal service we’d called in the past were able to approach the three feet that covered the entire length of our country driveway. So I called the guys with a big loader and am now waiting for one of them to get my message and come out.

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I ended up walking knee-deep in snow to reach the barn and the chicken coop so I could feed and water all the animals.

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You can see where I was walking down to the barn on the right and where I came back from the chicken coop on the left.

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The path to the wood shed had to be cleared too so I could bring my wheelbarrow to it.

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This was all piled today (rather than having a wood box – the practice we hated, we instead keep a pile on our deck for easy access).

With these temperatures, I needed three wheel-barrow loads to keep us warm till I get out again tomorrow. I love stacking wood, by the way, it’s a perfect activity for people with control issues.

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But I don’t want you to get the wrong idea of my being discontented with this conditions – in fact, I am as happy as can be. For winter, both severe and dazzling at once, in my favorite time of all. I find great pleasure in the contrast between the blistering cold air and the warmth of my clothes; I love how the house feels all warm and cozy as we read bedtime stories by the fire; but, most of all, I relish the isolation that the barrier of snow and cold affords, indulging my anti-social tendencies.

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Plus, the palette of blue and white and, if you are lucky, sunset-pink truly delights my eye. And though I be snow-bound, the deep, dark, long Midwestern winter is when I am at my happiest. Especially since, as a country woman, I at all times have enough food in the house to last me a couple of weeks.

“Shut in from all the world without,
We sat the clean-winged hearth about,
Content to let the north-wind roar
In baffled rage at pane and door,
While the red logs before us beat
The frost-line back with tropic heat.” — Ibid.

{ 1 comment }

1 Anna February 7, 2011 at 12:15 am

I think you’re the only person I know who welcomes and celebrates this weather. I admire that, though I can’t say that I share your enthusiasm. It’s funny that I still consider myself a “desert girl” even though I spent two thirds of my life in Wisconsin. LOL. But it’s truly refreshing to see someone enjoying nature’s beauty, not just complaining about it (and I do plenty of complaining). :)

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