Jan 13 2009

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Snow Country

Posted at 9:45 am under Blog Post

People living south of the border (the VT/MA state line, that is) are always surprised when I tell them that I don’t ski.  They think that’s what Vermont is all about.  I tried the sport once but didn’t much care for it.  I get out and snowshoe occasionally but am not as excited about that I as once was.  No, I hunker down during winter for the most part, focusing in on my literary work.  I wait for the other seven months of the year to roll around, when I can feel the earth underfoot and walking is easy.

Whether one skis or not, there’s no denying that Vermont is snow country.  It’s not unusual to get a hundred inches of the white stuff during a season here in the Champlain Valley and lot more than that falls on the mountains.  Oh sure, much of it melts off when the sun shines, but snow generally covers the ground from early December until the end of March.  So you’d better like it if you want to live here.

Do I like snow?  Let’s just say I’ve grown accustomed to it.  Growing up in central Ohio, I endured months of relentless gray skies and freezing rain.  By comparison, snow is much easier to contend with, especially on one of those blue-sky days like yesterday when the sun illuminates the frosty landscape.  A day like that can make even the crankiest, ice-hating curmudgeon believe that Vermont is a winter wonderland.

Shoveling snow is another matter, though.  I’ve noticed that those who like snow the most have Thule racks on their cars and usually bolt for the slopes after a winter storm has dumped a half foot or so.  You rarely see them shoveling out their driveways in full skiing regalia – that’s what the plows on the front of pickups are for.  But us poorer folk cringe at cost of snow plowing, so we resort to snow blowers or do it by hand.  It’s good exercise, we tell ourselves.  And that it is, for sure.

I pant and grunt as I push the snow around.  I often groan when I toss a particularly heavy load onto a five-foot snow pile.  I curse when my shovel catches on a knot of ice, wrenching my shoulder.  I sweat no matter what I wear and usually have ice encrusted in my beard when I finish.  A blast of cold air whips out of the northwest and I curse again.  Then my goofy dog, Matika, looks up from the hole she has dug in a snow pile and I can’t help but laugh.  Her furry face is even more ice-encrusted than mine, but she couldn’t be happier.  I stop shoveling long enough to toss her red ball a few times and she leaps through the snow like a snowbound dolphin.  Then the sun comes out again.

Being a Vermonter doesn’t mean playing in the snow all the time, but somehow we learn to live with it.  Hat, gloves and a heavy winter coat are essential.  A decent pair of snow boots can completely reverse one’s outlook on the season.  A little time spent outdoors sets one up for that commonplace moment when wild nature beams a frigid smile.  So when the weather forecasters threaten us with a Nor’easter that’s sure to dump a foot or more, we check our shovels to make sure they aren’t broken and say: “Bring it on!”  The more snow we get, the more we have to brag about.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Snow Country”

  1. Philon 14 Jan 2009 at 10:53 pm 1

    Winter in VT can be so humbling. We carve out our little paths to walk on and shovel our driveways. We retreat into our homes and seek the creature comforts. When I’m out of the house either walking or traveling I can’t help but daydream about life prior to modern conveniences and cultural distractions. This daydream is one of my favorite hobbies.

  2. Walton 15 Jan 2009 at 6:57 am 2

    The three things that impress me most when I return home from a long trek through winter woods: 1) hot showers 2) how quickly water boils on the stove 3) how easy it is to stay warm indoors. Heat is civilization.