Sunday, January 29, 2012

Land of Wind and Rain

When I first moved to northern New York, my students taught me something important: If you want it to snow, you must sleep with your pajamas on wrong-side out and backwards. For two winters, I practiced that. This winter, I forgot! You can see what happened: We have had wind. We have had rain. We have not had snow. You can see the grass.

But some of my colleagues reminded me of this snow magic, and so I tried it. We've had a little snow. I asked my new students if they knew any others. Yes. To bring snow, you must sleep with a spoon under your pillow. To bring snow, you must flush three ice cubes down the toilet. And from the Wedding-Guest, putting a Pop-Tart in the freezer can bring snow.

I'm thinking of having a study, complete with control group, among my students to find out which of these methods is most effective. As for me and my house, we shall sleep wrong-side out and backwards, flush ice down the toilet, leave Cinderella's (more on her later) chocolate Pop-Tart in the freezer, and sleep with spoons under our pillows. I will let you know what happens.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

And now there came both mist and snow, and it grew wond'rous cold...

FINALLY it is snowing! "At first it seemed a little speck, and then it seemed a mist. It moved and moved and took at last a certain shape, I wist." That's how the snow came too: At first, walking the dogs after work, I heard the wind like a far-off train, and then like a skateboard coming up behind me. Then, I went out to get the mail in tiny flakes that didn't count to my greedy self. And then the next time I looked out, there were more of them. And then I looked out and the wind was back, and it was blowing all the flakes every direction, and all was white again, including the horrible muddy patch of grass that used to be our front yard.

It's not a blizzard. Ice mast-high will not come floating by any time soon. I doubt the ice fishermen can even come onto the lake yet. But there is mist and snow. Already, I see that it is slowing down. Perhaps it will pick back up while I am sleeping, and perhaps the sun that is predicted for tomorrow will just make the still day colder for all the sparkling it causes instead of melting all this back into horrible grey-dirty ice.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A thousand, thousand slimy things lived on...and so did I.

Cats never like me. They never want to come to me. They never want to stay with me. I know why: I like them. I want them to come to me. I want them to stay with me. They don't like that. For cats, I am the equivalent of the clingy boyfriend who wants to marry you after the first date.

Apparently, I am the same to the snow: It doesn't like me. It doesn't want to come to me. It doesn't want to stay with me. It just wants to be friends.

We had no snow today either, and the sun came out. We had nice big gusts of wind that knocked down trees and took out the power last night, but no snow. Today I see even more grass, even more mud, even more dirt in the icy snow we do have left. It looks like spring.

My weather forecast shows a picture of snow and clouds. I hope that comes true, but I'm trying not to hope it too much. I'm trying to go about my business, not think about it constantly, not check the window and the forecast all the time, not want it too much in case that will make it want me.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

And when I awoke, it rained.

It is the middle of January. We are supposed to be hemmed in by snow. We are not. We got a little snow -- about a foot -- right before we returned to New York, but today the rain came and washed too much of it away!

Still, I only complain a little bit for now. The rain cleared the roads, and the temperature was so warm that it didn't freeze. The meant I could drive to Cape Vincent, pick up the Wedding Guest, bring him here and hang out for a few hours. We didn't get much accomplished, research-wise, but we did catch up on each other's lives and, as he so often does, he brought deer meat with him! And cooked it in butter. We had rice with broccoli and seedless green grapes and, of course, iced tea. Outside, the rain fell little but constant, uncovering the muddy green grass and making my snow gray. But that's okay. I was glad to have an easy drive back to Cape Vincent later and a very nice one home, checking out the countryside and small towns I haven't seen in almost a month.

And in the evening...the storm-blast comes, and he is tyrannous and strong. He strikes with his o'er-taking wings. The wind is big and gusty. It is not like Oklahoma wind at all. Even when it is big, it never seems to last very long. And it very, very seldom swirls into a tornado. I don't fear it. I find it an exciting change of pace, and I wish I could walk down to the lake with my coat-tails flapping and see what it does to the water.

I'm so glad to live here. I hope winter is riding back in on this wind, like a big, bearded biker roaring into town to take charge.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Snow Selfishness

None of my friends from New York love the snow as much as I do. That's natural; you seldom love what you've always had too much of. I, of course, grew up with piddling Oklahoma snows that lasted a week at most but were usually just a few inches that melted at noon and turned to ice in the evening.

So I am constantly wishing for snow, celebrating snow when it comes, and wishing for more snow no matter how much we already have. I want whipping winds of snow through which I cannot see. I want giant slow flakes or curtains of tiny sparkling flakes. I want it now, and more.

It is selfish, when so many of my friends and co-workers hate snow and/or have Seasonal Affective Disorder, to wish so hard for more of it -- for grey skies and gusty wind and so much snow that we can't remember what it was like to see the ground. It is selfish, but I can't seem to stop it.

But then I find myself in this kind of bind: I have a very dear young friend here in New York who lives about half an hour from me on the St. Lawrence River. He is my Wedding Guest, the one to whom "my tale [I must] teach." He's also my research assistant when I do metal projects, so beyond enjoying his company, I benefit from his patience with internet research. I have been in Oklahoma the last few weeks, so we haven't seen each other in about a month. Beyond needing to get truckin' on the research (which is due in MARCH!!!!), I just really look forward to visiting with him -- and, of course, butting into his life with nosiness and advice.

I was going to announce that the thought of this visit made me for once unselfish about the snow because I am hoping it will hold off for a day so I can drive out there and get him...but now I realize that I am STILL being selfish, asking it to stop because something better has come along.

The nature of snow is not to care about my plans, which is one of the things I love about it, but I just had to write this entry to commemorate one of those rare times when I kind of hope the snow (or even worse, ice) will not come down for one day. But just one day. After that, I hope we get a blizzard.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dog Walk

My first winter here, my husband was deployed. We had one dog, Tula, she of the crooked teeth and dubious breeding (we got her from the animal shelter). We had no fence around our yard. So every morning I got up 30 minutes early in order to layer on, over pajamas, the following: snow overalls, fleece scarf, fleece jacket, puffy ski jacket, hat with ear flaps (lined with fleece), $40 North Face ski mittens, and fur-lined snow boots...all so I could walk Tula to town. Upon returning from a day teaching college, I put all the same on over my work clothes and walked her to town again -- before dinner, which if you know my Hobbit eating habits, is a huge sacrifice. In the middle of the day, a dog walker came and walked her again. She was in good shape.

But I always felt bad that our little dog was only ever outside on a leash. (For Tula runs away and does not come back when called. Or chased.) And, we thought, it would be so nice to just let the dogs out in the morning instead of having to walk them before breakfast. So, just before he came home, we had a fence put up around the yard -- and, in the meantime, got a dog for Tula, Nikki -- a Tibetan spaniel also from the shelter, whose teeth and breeding are even more questionable than hers.

Thus it was that when the next winter came, we could -- and did -- just let the dogs out in the mornings...and, after awhile, also sometimes in the evenings when we just didn't feel like going outside after working all day.

You know where this is going: Even though my dogs are AWFUL to walk, I miss the walks. I miss knowing the snow levels and how many ice fishermen are on the frozen lake. I miss the orange streetlight glow on the snow. I miss the moon sparkling on it. I miss knowing its sound. I miss knowing whether the cold that day will take my breath away or just feel fresh and clean.

We walked the dogs this evening, and I hope to get back into the pattern of walking them. It's better for them, and of course, us also. I'm going to start with the evening walks for a few weeks and just do the morning one when I feel like it. I know myself: If it feels like punishment or an unnecessary obligation, I won't do it. After awhile, I'll add the morning walk back in regularly and see how that goes. I did it before, so surely I can manage it again. And my little dogs will feel more like dogs, perhaps. My lungs will feel more like lungs. My winter will feel longer, bigger, colder, closer.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Return to the Land of Mist and Snow

Well...It's been awhile, again. And again, I say I will try to do better. And I will not even TRY to catch you up on goings-on. Anyway, if you are reading this, you are probably my father and know everything anyway. We all know you, Daddy, are the real audience for this blog. And so, as I used to do on carousels as my horse came around to where you were standing, I will wave at my first and most loyal audience.

This year, the land of mist and snow has been the land of 60-degrees and sun all winter. No snow on Halloween. No snow on Thanksgiving. No snow on CHRISTMAS. So we went home to Oklahoma for a few weeks. Now, we are at the home of my husband's sisters in Lockport, a suburb of Buffalo. We had a nice sunny drive here...decided to spend the night and have been snowed in for two days now. Hurray!

Except not quite hurray because we have to drive home in it today, as my husband must sign in from leave today. (In case any of you are NOT Daddy and don't know, my husband is a soldier.) Still, I am so glad to see snow. Real snow. Big snow.

Except Alaska has so much snow that their cars are buried. They can't open their doors. And so I have snow envy. I hope once we do get home to our beautiful blue beta fish, Li Ning, and our incredibly pricy heating oil we will get dramatic snow as well. I hope it never stops. I hope it is still snowing in May.