Shoveling Out the Winter

A rumination on winter things and the challenges snow shoveling presents for a California girl. 

by Luellen Smiley • More.com Member { View Profile }

Writing by hand at my tiny, Eurasian desk I face the window to the west. I am framed by time and familiarity into the branches of JD’s pine tree, which is today ward-robed in our first white snow. The black silky toned crows are still basking like prowesses on the branches and waiting for the crumbs that fall out of the garbage cans at the hotel across the street. My bird family has already eaten through a full day’s feeding and is fleecing each other to first place at the table. The silky drape of the winter sky sometimes adorned with lacy clouds is blue as sea and has shaken the clouds all night so we have sixteen inches of snow at the Santa Fe ski basin. I’d rather be sailing. I don’t happen to get snow shoveling without gut-wrenching lower back pain. How do you shovel snow?

I’m wearing one cotton camisole, one shapeless thermo insulated turtle neck, a down vest, and when I go outside I wear a down jacket. I’m so bundled up it feels like my limbs are bound in masking tape. My teeth look whiter and my hair is flat instead of frizzy. Snow changes everything.

From my desk, I write without thoughts predefined, just a drain of emotional threads from my heart, listening to Zap Mama as she takes me to the wild, naked, warm region of Africa.

This year isn’t like last year. The absente man, fussing with the fireplace, making me afternoon espresso, or drying dishes has excused himself from my adventures in livingess. It is not at all like last year. Long time friend Rudy is in San Diego, and so I am not interpreting the division of attention, between two men laughing at the kitchen table, and eating my blueberry pancakes, as they did last year.

I had the song of Judy Garland’s rainbow in my heart. It was a time I will never forget, or regret, because I was satisfied for several years. Unabridged ecstasy poured out of body, and spread over my attitude, abundant spirit, mood, facial expressions, and my dreams were filled with amusement instead of nightmares.

I wander into unfamiliar snowy woods unsteady, juxtaposed between, acceptance and self anger for being so, so ... whatever it is that I pump into myself. Nothing is worthless; not one moment should be wasted because there is always that window of escape. Our minds are there to take us away. I’m escaping now, Zap Mama Pandora station on the headset, and writing. This is taking the moment out of frustration and into pleasantry.

My steps inward resulted in accomplishments: emotional break-troughs, mundane tasks accomplished, solo ventures, match.com dates (another story) and a comedic sideshow as I wrestle with sealed boxes, make repairs, and toggle in my patent leather too stylish boots to actually be called snow shoes.

In these moments, I assure myself that evolving is never-ending, and we do not ever know what to expect from ourselves. 

Alone, and without struggle or battle if we write down the pleasantries surrounding our life, our blessings rise up and

give us comfort. The essence of our changing lives is universal. Why am I doing this now, why am I feeling this now? Etc.

Remember your pleasantries, and bring them closer.

Here are a few of my snow pleasantries:

Kneipps Herbal Lavender Bath: Do not apply to the face! I draped my face in a cloth of it and endured a purple rash on my eyelids for a month.

Ralph Lauren Candles: I paid too much, but the scent is like having a man around the house.

Homeland. Sunday nights, Showtime. Claire Danes has replaced my empty strong female lead on television. I mean, this is one to watch!

Friend visits twice a week at least: Snow means, silence, and hermitizing, so I open the door to my pal Loren once or twice a week. We harmonize for an hour on tones of fretful thoughts, fear, and wicked secrets. 

Treats: One kitchen counter is dedicated to snacks, candy, and popcorn that I can nibble on while indoors more than I’d like to be.

Bar Bells: For those combative moments on hold with Comcast, SWA or Verizon.

Books: Time for Virginia Wolf or Alison Munroe.

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