Black Ice

I’m forcing myself out of a frozen shell to engage with the rest of the world. There are times when I need a build up of ideas and energy in my head that is too easily dispelled by any form of communication. Emails and voicemails and texts are piling up. I know the end is nigh for this period of silence, that will likely be followed by a burst of productivity. Sometimes I wonder if nature controls my moods.

canstockphoto19231888.jpgThis week has been the most wintry week of winter. Black ice on Monday, heavy snowfall midweek, and now brittle, skin-freezing temps and wind chills again. A friend slipped and broke her leg. A man shot a school bus driver after a fender-bender on a snow and ice-coated highway. The rabbit that found a winter home near one of our window wells is puffed out to twice it size and gets stared at by giant, hairless bipeds at least twice a day. People make snide comments on Star Tribune weather articles about climate change.

I shoveled the half foot of snow off the drive yesterday and wondered how many more years I’d be able to do it. The aches of the day are knee, hip and back. I’ve always been a work horse and hate the noise and maintenance of snowblowers. I like the dead silence of winter, the barrage of constant physical sensation that forces me out of my brain and into the moment – the numbing of my face, breathing through frozen nose hairs, the bite at my thighs and fingers that mean I’ll be red and burning when I get inside and start to warm.

canstockphoto3182017I’ve never been a daredevil and never really understood those who are. Why climb a mountain? Why jump out of a plane? Why deep sea dive? I’m disinterested in the spectacular physical challenges humans seek out. I’m interested in survival and the daily precipice we all live on – the never knowing when death will seek us out. When I’m out on a winter’s day, I think of how our lives are built on safety nets and backup plans and fail-safes, but in spite all of that, someone will have a heart attack shoveling, someone will fall in their shower, someone will eat a yet-to-be recalled food.

Our daily lives are full of risk. We could do everything right and still have life go south. Knowing that is adrenaline enough for me. And it requires no special gear, no great heights, no training courses. Just a desolate, muffled winter day.

20 Comments on “Black Ice

  1. I’m with you 100%. Not even remotely interested in jumping out of planes, climbing mountains, ziplining etc etc. And if it’s any comfort to you, our weather has been nuts this winter: temperatures as low as -28C one day and as mild as 12 the next, as much as 31 centimetres of snow in one storm, freezing rain and ice pellets, wind gusts of up to 80 km/h … don’t know from minute to minute what to expect.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is peak winter for Minnesota – 15 kinds of snow and ice in a week and everyone acting like it’s the very first time it has ever happened or worse yet, that it’s a sign global warming is a myth.

      The adrenaline junkies always puzzle me – and how everyone says, when they die their predictable death, “at least they were doing what they love”. Seems a bit pithy for someone breaking every bone in their body and bleeding out or freezing to death. It’s a more interesting/visceral way to go, I suppose, then collapsing in your driveway clutching a shovel. I hope I die while reading a book. Then people can say the same about me.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I’ve long believed that people only do those daft things because they are bored or have little imagination and need to get kicks on one way or another. We cannot make life safe however hard we try.

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  3. You’ve said what I have often thought…just living here (eastern Canada) is an adventure. I also spent enough of my childhood hoping to survive it that I don’t need to take more risks to get a charge as an adult.

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    • I’m surprised I survived childhood and through my early 20s. Still, I secretly imagine I’ll die some banal, asinine death – like falling off the ladder while cleaning the gutters. No need to add hobbies like rock climbing or hang gliding. That’d be…overkill.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Love the way you write….no daredevil here either.
    I couldn’t bare cold weather, that’s why I’m in Fla, but the idea of a silent winter day appeals…not the cold, but the starkness.
    I’m drawn to stark landscapes and old abandoned buildings…something nostalgic about them that appeals for some reason..a loneliness or poignancy perhaps

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    • I couldn’t bare the hot weather…or wearing shorts and sleeveless tops. Would rather lose a finger or two to frostbite! I was thinking about how we’ve become so separated from the “elements” that we sometimes lose perspective about our place in the universe and how amazing and fragile our existence actually is. Stark, vast, and seemingly untenable landscapes take us out of our phones where humans seem the center of the universe and reduce us to real life size.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. And yet at times I still miss it. When it hits 35 here in my “western climate”, I walk barefoot on my stone patio just to feel the cold seep into my veins. But honestly, my blood thinned immediately upon my “endless winter” home in the Northeast, and I could never survive there again. Reading your words today, written in such a forlorn somber way is nostalgic and refreshing because your mood is reflected in your words and thus your heart shines through. ☀️Erika

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    • Thanks, Erika. From my perspective, it really comes down to contrast. I like a place where every season gives me a reason to really appreciate the next one. And I have to admit to having a penchant for extreme conditions, but only because I know they are temporary. This may change as I age more (I feel arthritis creeping in and it’s in the family), but for now, I like it here.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Your bleak report is positively uplifting. I could cheerfully commit suicide by supermarket sushi after reading this. Or is my icy nature perhaps a tad too dark?
    I’m not sure if I’m being funny or depressing. That’s what this time of year means to me–puzzling plunges into the coldest crevices of my soul. And, apparently, a lot of alliteration.

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  7. The silence after a snowfall is one of the things I miss most about snow. It’s so peaceful. With that said, I do not missing freezing for 6 months out of the year, shoveling through the mountain of snow at the end of the driveway because the plows came through 25 times before I got outside the shovel, or feeling effects of the cold on my joints.

    I also am not a daredevil. You won’t see me jumping out of a perfectly good airplane or diving.

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