Cabin Fever

Here in the north country, it’s been cold. Not just cold but brutally cold. Well below zero cold. The cold that you just can’t seem to warm up from. Cold that settles deep in your bones. And it seems there is no end in sight.

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Yes there has been an abundance of sunshine.
Yes there has been an abundance of snow.

A perfect winter you think.

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But it has also been cold. It is the kind of cold that prevents us from enjoying all that sun and snow.

And it causes a common ailment to occur:

Cabin Fever

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Cabin fever begins with a slight feeling of agitation. Bundling up just to start your car in the morning and it sounds like a dying animal. This then leads to irritation and resentment.  Complusively checking the weather forecast and then groaning when you see it. Next comes the glimpse of hope. It’s above zero. You go outside only to run back in because with the wind chill, it’s still below zero.

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You feel trapped. You find inside things to do but feel a bit lethargic and unmotivated. You daydream about warmer times and warmer places.

You worship your wood stove and try to find gratitude in the little things…like having a wood stove.

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Here in Vermont, we are hearty. We know how to dress for the weather. We know how to survive these cold spells. We have done it countless times before. Yet each year when it arrives again, we forget that we know what to do. We forget to have faith that this too shall pass. Because it always does.

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So we do the best we can. We read and write and create and pass the time. We complain to friends and family and strangers and we eat more chocolate…we eat more period.

The weather forecast for this weekend isn’t horrible. 14 above for a high seems almost balmy. Perhaps there will be a chance to get out and play. Perhaps we can alleviate our cabin fever for a few hours. Perhaps…

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I’ll let you know on Monday!

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Nothing But Blue Skies

It truly has been a beautiful winter so far. Lots of snow. And an abundance of sunshine.

It is the sun that chases away the winter blues. Or perhaps it’s a little bit more than that.

January, a month typically dreaded here in the north country, is showing us a different side. Or perhaps it’s me that is seeing things differently.

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The blues I felt last winter? They are gone. And this January, I find myself singing a happier sort of tune.

Because there is nothing but blue skies…

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A Winter Wonderland

A Nor’easter visited us last Tuesday. And lasted for over 3 days.

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It stalled and dumped heavy snow that measured in feet. It downed trees and power lines. It closed schools and roads. It left a trail of destruction.

And then when the clouds finally cleared and sun shone…it also left a winter wonderland.

Words cannot describe the beauty and magic of the snow laden trees.

Their limbs bending down to kiss the earth.

Their icy branches glistening in the sun.

Birches bowing deeply over roads and trails.

Pines tall and straight coated in white frosting.

I was transported into an enchanted land. A forest of delight. A Robert Frost poem that left me in awe at the power and wonder of Mother Nature.

As I left, I said a prayer for those still without power. I raised my hand in thanks to the many utility trucks along the road. And I felt grateful for being able to experience this…

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A true winter wonderland.

Fire Tower

There is something exhilarating about climbing a fire tower. And there are quite a few of these relics scattered around our state. Sitting atop mountains…a remnant from the past. No longer in use. Technology having taken their place.

I have climbed a few in my day.

Usually after a challenging hike…a bonus reward at the summit…not just a spectacular view but a fire tower too.

Today, for whatever reason, I had a yearning to climb one of those towers. I didn’t want to do a huge mountain hike though, wading through two feet of fresh snow…but I wanted the reward of a tower.

Luckily for me there is a fire tower nearby. Practically in my backyard. Or 7 miles  over in the next town.

Allis State Park.

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I discovered it this fall. And I fell in love. Not only is it secluded and lovely, but there is a fire tower.

It’s not easy to find. Closed in the winter. The sign taken down. The road to the gate barely plowed.

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What a perfect day. It was cold…the sun and blue skies deceptive. But I was dressed for it and excited to make the mile long snowshoe trek up to the fire tower.

God bless snowmobilers…they had recently traveled through the park making my trek much easier.

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The snow from the recent storm coats the trees, branches bending from the weight of it. The brilliant sun casts long and intricate shadows.

The snowmobile trail ends and we make our own tracks…sinking far into the snow…

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Until the tower appears…

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It looms and stretches upward..its steel supports strong and enduring.

I take off my snowshoes and prepare to ascend.

I don’t have a fear of heights…yet looking up and seeing the top…so far away…isn’t easy. Your legs tremble a bit…your breath catches…and your stomach does a few somersaults.

I stop part way up.  Even there the view is stunning…

But it is the top…the 360 degree views that take your breath away.

Orion waits for me…down below. He’s not a fan of fire tower stairs…

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The wind whips around the tower…but the sun is warm on my face. I don’t want to leave.

I take a deep breath and inhale the view one last time…

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And descend…

Lessons from a Snow Dog

 It’s getting a bit more difficult these days…to find that eternal optimism that has seen me through countless other harsh winters. I know it’s there, but too many bitter cold days…and very little snow is getting to even me!

So I decided this weekend, I needed to find a way to recapture and rekindle my winter spirit. After all, there is still more winter to come.

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Fortunately we received some fresh, fluffy snow this week. The temperatures were going to be on the warmer side…mid 20’s. And the sun was shining. I could do this. I needed to do this.

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I had no particular destination in mind. I only knew I had to go.

My dog, my snowshoes, my camera and me.

Orion is a Siberian Husky. He would love it if it were winter year round.

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I thought maybe I could learn something from him. See if he could help chase away these winter blues.

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Orion is always willing, always ready. He is my constant companion when I hike and explore. No matter what season it is. He never complains. He loves our adventures…and I love having him with me.

 Orion is a happy dog. He is full of energy and enthusiasm. Orion doesn’t have bad days. And you may notice that it appears as if he’s smiling.

He is…

We explored and hiked and admired the winter wonderland around us.

Orion bounding through the deep snow. Running ahead, chasing scents, and having dog fun. I trudged along behind him, not quite as nimble…laughing at his silliness and smiling at his joy.

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I realized how much I could learn from him.

I lay back in the snow and made a snow angel. Right there in the middle of the woods.

And Orion kissed me.

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I think I can handle winter for a little while longer…

The Smell of Snow

It’s coming. It’s only a matter of time now. There are hints of it everyday. There is something in the air that means only one thing.

After living in Vermont for almost 40 years…I know.

The first snow is coming…soon.

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I can smell it.

It isn’t something I can describe. There is no aroma or fragrance or odor. Nothing so obvious.  But my nose detects it.

And my body and heart now need to embrace it. It’s winter. A snowy one predicted. I must prepare myself…emotionally and mentally for this shift.

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So I spent some time reminiscing as I looked through my photos. Hoping to find that spark, that joy of photography in the depth of winter.

Perhaps these will help…

Or these…

Or this…

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The first snow is coming. My camera is ready. And so am I.

Stopping by Woods

“The woods are lovely dark and deep but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep…”

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How I love Robert Frost!

This poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening is one of my favorites. Many times I have found myself in snowy woods thinking of the words to this poem.

And many times there has been no snow, just woods.

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The woods are tranquil and serene…so I do like to linger. But too often I need to hurry back, before dark, to take care of my promises.

There are times though…when lingering is allowed. When there is nothing pressing…no rush to get back…and I can be entranced by the woods. When I can explore and look more closely at the trees around me and be amazed…

Soon enough the woods will fill up with snow. And I will stop.