Rain and Shadows and Light

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In the night it starting raining. Hard. The wind picked up. Rain blasted through the screen. We rose, shut some windows. After a while it tapered off. Waking in the dark, I heard the rain fall again against the porch roof. Then I slept.

Morning, rain fell on and off. I could not get out to stain the house siding. Too wet for that. I could not finish mowing the field. I brewed coffee, sat on the porch and read Ivan Doig. My reading was interrupted by heavy showers. Wind misted rain through the screen. More than once I said aloud “Dang. It’s coming down.”

I got lost in Doig’s story, then looked out again at the gray. I had breakfast–blueberries and yogurt and granola. Later I took care of paying bills. I hung some closet doors. When it cleared, I thought temporarily, I popped over to a spot in town that often gets flooded to see if any early shorebirds had come through. They hadn’t. The rain did not come back.

Late in the day, sunlight highlighted the hills. Clouds hung in shadow and the far-off green trees glowed. Wind tickled the Black-Eyed Susans. Trees and grass and flowers drank the fresh water. It is quieter these days, with fewer birds singing. Soon, at night, the Perseid meteor shower will light up the night. I love rain, but hope for clear skies to see the stars surprised by slashes of light.

A few red leaves have appeared, as if competing to be the first to arrive at autumn. They are anomalies, for now. Sandpipers and plovers are not far off. Maples will blush soon. But not today. August has treasures to be found. I need to seek them out.

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Stuck at Home

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I love being home. I mean, we live in a pretty sweet place. Have you seen this state? If you are from around here, you know what I’m talking about (I hope). If you are not, look it up. Spring time in Vermont? Hard to beat.

Right now, however, we are stuck here. We had planned to head to Utah for a wedding. We went to the airport and planned to get on a plane. But at the desk the bad news was that our flight was delayed. We had just looked and it was on time, but in those intervening moments, things got pushed back.

Low cloud ceilings slow things down. At a busy airport like JFK, where we would catch our connecting flight, delays can cascade. Our 2:30 flight was pushed back to 4:30 while we spoke to agent at the desk. While we tried to decide what to do it got pushed back to 6:30. Then 8:00. Now it is scheduled to leave close to 9:00, still a half hour away. Good thing we decided to just wait until tomorrow.

We came home from the airport and ordered sandwiches in town. We have been relaxing and rescheduling at home while the rain comes down. It is pouring now, as the light fades. We don’t have to leave right away tomorrow but we will have a long layover in New York nonetheless–seven hours or so. There is only one flight on our airline per day from JFK to Salt Lake City. Whatever time we get there we have to take that flight.

We did have to deal with some logistics. Rental car is not available a day later but we figured that out (different rental car agency for not too much more money). We had to cancel our hotel less than 24 hours out (they let us do it without a fee) and we had to book the next night instead (room available!). We had to cancel what would have been our second night at a different place but they let us do so without a penalty as well. And we will get better seats on the new flight. So it all works out, as usual, even if we do have to miss a family hike. We won’t miss the wedding.

We are going from one beautiful place to another for a few days. These are all first world problems. Inconvenient for us? Yes. Disappointing? Sure. But we will be fine of course. For now we can enjoy the sound of the rain on the porch roof. Sounds pretty soothing if you ask me. A good night’s sleep and we’ll try again tomorrow.

Blizzard Situation

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I just came in from outside. It is dark out there. And snowing. And a tad windy. Looking into the wind is a bad idea. The snowflakes are like needles on my face. Snow is drifted so the ground is close to bare in some spots and up to my waist in others. We have ourselves a blizzard.

The phone call came at 5:30 a.m. No school today. No school for my children and no school for me. A phone call at 5:30 a.m. means a bit of adrenaline in the system. There was no going back to sleep. I got up and got cracking.

My daughter and I rallied early. We popped into town. We picked up milk and seltzer and candy. All the essentials. I had made a stop in town just yesterday so mostly we were good to go. But I hadn’t gotten enough candy for the crew. We topped off the car with gas and parked it in the garage. No more driving today.

By mid-morning it was snowing. By late afternoon it was snowing like stink. The wind picked up. It became hard to see much in the distance. Cold, wind and snow, and lots of all three, means a blizzard. We have not had a storm like this in years.

About 6:30 p.m. the call came. Same guy, calling to let us know school is cancelled for tomorrow as well. The snow and wind will continue until late morning. Then more snow. We aren’t going anywhere. We tromped around a bit today and will do more tomorrow. Fun stuff. Exciting. It makes me appreciate my warm home. This place is awesome.

Water and Ice

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A few days ago it was warm, so warm that rivers ran high and snow melted and we had lots of water. I walked down to the bridge to see the fields. The river gushed under the bridge. The fields had become a lake. The snowmobile trails were a wash. Just recently we finally had enough snow for snowmobilers to buzz around on the local trails. That afternoon they would have needed a boat.

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Last night the temperature was in the single digits, as it was the night before. Yesterday morning I went for a run. Where a week ago I was dodging mud and puddles and piles of slush, yesterday I ran on frozen dirt. A dusting of snow made the ice patches hazardous. It was a different landscape.

Winter came, then spring came, then winter came back. As I have said, I prefer snow. As many have said, if we have winter we might as well have snow. The sun shines today. The temperature might rise to the twenties. It is too cold for sugaring now, although some sugaring happened just last week. In a couple of days the temperatures will rise above freezing and stay there–too warm for sugaring. Hopefully things will settle out so the sap will run this month–below freezing at night, above freezing during the day.

In a month we will have spring for sure. Today I plan to reattach the birdhouse that fell off its post this winter. I want it up by nesting season. Who knows when that will be there this year? Red-Winged Blackbirds have been back for a week, so it could be here in a few days.

We might get another snowstorm. Would love that, but I’m not confident. Tomorrow morning I will get out and run again. Maybe we have mud. Maybe we have ice. Either way I look forward to getting out there again. Winter and Spring can duke it out. Regardless, I am going to do my thing.

Going to Snow Land

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Down here in the valley we have little snow. Oh we have some patches here and there. It snowed this morning, in fact, and a dusting tried to gather on the cold ground. But really things are brown and gray with some dark green punctuation. So yesterday we took a trip up to where the snow can be found.

Head up just a little bit and you can find snow. We went to Stowe and parked the van at Trapp Family Lodge. We clicked on our nordic skies and headed uphill into the woods. The sky was mostly cloudy but blue popped out here and there. I skied with the whole fam–spouse, daughter, son. My offspring can ski my pants off now. They have been taking lessons with a ski program a couple days each week. They have come a long way, skill-wise, since our first trip on those same trails.

We skied only slightly uphill at first but then hit the steeper trails. Trapp Family Lodge has a backcountry cabin a couple of miles in. Caretakers there serve hot soup and sandwiches and hot cocoa and tea. On a chilly day and after some work getting up there, that is a treat. That trip to the cabin, which once was a huge adventure for my kids, was yesterday a solid ski that they described at taking “so much less time than it used to!” True, that.

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The trails are groomed and the snow was perfect. It was just the antidote to the dreary snowlessness of the valley. We have talked many times of moving where there might be more snow–higher in elevation, farther north. We miss snow. Records show that our town used to get more snow that we get now. That rots for us in these days of warming. One of these days we might do it. My wife, however, pointed out that it will just be a matter time before Stowe gets too little snow as well. True (I am afraid), that.

This week? Rain in the forecast. Even up high. That is whey we had to get up there. We had to slide around in the fresh snow before it melts away. Hopefully we will get more chances this winter to romp about in the white stuff. As always, I will try to be optimistic. We had a neighbor, back in the days when we lived on the mountain, who had a vanity plate: PRY4SNO. Maybe I will try that.

Icy Running

img_4775One of my goals has been to run more this year. I used to run a lot. I ran marathons and even completed the Vermont 50. That feels like a long time ago now. After back surgery and an early stroke and a few years of aging to boot, I got out of the habit. Not that I didn’t want to run, but I got injured more often and more easily, and running made me too reflective after going to such a dark place with a stroke. But now I am ready to get back to it.

When I was a frequent runner I would track my mileage. I did this for training purposes, of course. Should I get in a longer run this weekend? Should I take a day off? That kind of thing. I also did it for my shoes. I tried not to put too many miles on my shoes to avoid a blow out or an injury. These days, however, I find it better to forget about distance and pace and total mileage. I want to just get out there and enjoy it. I want to simply run.

Many years ago I was surprised, before the start of a marathon, to run into a good friend from college. I knew Pat had become a serious runner, taking on marathons, trying to run fast. He asked me if I had a finish time goal. That year I didn’t really have a significant one–maybe finish under four hours or something. He said to me “I think I’ll try to start out with fives.” It took me a minute to realize he was talking about his pace. He was planning to run an average of five minutes per mile. When you think that way you win marathons. Turns out, out of a field of thousands, he came in fourth overall. Not too shabby.

Afterwards I asked Pat about his training. He admitted that he did not always want to go for a run. Some days it was raining or cold or he was just tired, but he was determined to reach the running goals he set for himself. So he said this: “When I know I need to get out there, but I don’t feel like it, I just get out there anyway.” Always, he said, he felt great once he got going, and especially great when he was done. So this year I am determined to get out there anyway.

Yesterday morning I got out there. There is a beautiful class four road (unmaintained in winter) nearby. It is perfect for a run–through the woods, great views into town, all dirt, no pavement. I have not run on it much recently because it has been snowy or icy and seemed too treacherous. But I have started to run on it anyway. Yesterday morning it was covered in a light snow. This was a challenge as that light snow covered up the ice. Light snow on ice? Not ideal for running.

I picked may through, however, walking gingerly at times. Again, I am not in it for a pace. I just want to run. It was a beautiful morning, cold but not too cold. The fresh snow beautified the brownness and grayness of winter. I sucked in the wintry air and stayed warm by moving. It felt, as my friend had suggested all those years ago, great.

This is a lesson I keep coming back to. Get out there anyway. The road is icy, or it is snowing, or it is hot, or rain pounds the trail–get out there anyway. I carry it over into other realms as well. At work, I have to do something I don’t really want to do? Do it anyway. That chore at home I would rather put off? Do it anyway.

Come spring, lots of people will come out of the woodwork and I will see them running. I will not wait. As long as I don’t injure myself I will get out there whatever the weather, whatever my mood. I know that once I get going I will feel great. Thanks, Pat.

“Snow Day”

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The forecast called for snow. And rain and sleet and freezing rain. It looked ugly. Predictions foretold a tricky morning commute. Weather would be worst just when buses would be transporting children to school. It was a set up for a snow day. So said the forecast. I would believe it when it happened.

We have had so little snow this year (and last year) that I am skeptical of any forecast for wintry weather. But sure enough, my wife woke me up this morning to tell me that schools all across the state were closed. Then the phone rang–recorded message that our school was closed. I was scheduled to be at two different schools today–one in the morning and one in the afternoon–and they were both closed as well. Snow day.

But it wasn’t really a snow day. It rained hard last night and was raining hard when I fell asleep. It turned to snow at some point and there was some sleet mixed in at some point. It was snowing when I woke, then rained again to freeze on every exposed surface. It was icy and sloppy, and treacherous driving was a given. It made sense to cancel school.

I did do some work from home today. I always have something I can do, although I have to reschedule two school visits now. That’s always a hassle. But still. Snow day! Even though it means a pain the backside for me, I always love a snow day. Today was a bonus family day. I went out to get some sandwiches in town, just for a fun lunch (and the driving was pretty slow), but otherwise we stayed home together. As my children get older those family days will get fewer, so it is worth taking advantage of them.

Tomorrow I will be back at it. I have some prep to do for the day yet. We won’t have two snow days in a row. But I feel a little more energized, a little more buoyant. A snow day is like a mini-vacation. I don’t want it to end, but I am better prepared to get things done tomorrow. Not a bad deal.

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