At Home with Juno
Our Neighbor’s back door
There is a certain magic to being snowed in. It feels helpless and thrilling all at once. There is also a particular emotion that is reserved for those days – those days when you wake up and realize that you aren’t going anywhere. Since childhood, this emotion feels exactly the same, only then it was school, and now, it’s work that is cancelled. I have no idea which is better.
I can get hypnotized by the Weather Channel, watching on the screen what I can see out the window, until I come to and realize how goofed up that is. At least for me, it is difficult to carry on like a normal day and do “normal day” things. The blizzard is a thing of wonder, and deserves to be watched.
As the winds build, it’s a bit scary at first, particularly at night. I hold my breath and listen. Unidentified thumps and bangs occasionally occur, and I try to guess what they might be. You grow accustomed to the gusts, where they’re coming from, how they sound, so that subsequent gusts are merely expected. I’m proud of myself for lashing the smoker and storage cabinet to the deck railings last night.
Clearing the snow at this point in time is nonsensical. The wind will simply fill in the gaps just as fast as you make them. They say the blizzard will last all day long, until nightfall. If the wind slackens a bit, I’ll fire up the snow blower, but not until then. I may not even shower or get dressed. I won’t see anyone all day.
The primitive aspect of weathering a storm brings the ancestors closer. While I am not Native American, I can envision them seated inside the wigwam (in this area), a small fire sending its trace of smoke through a slight hole in the roof. How cozy it must’ve been. People elbow to elbow, there is no doubt, but warm and dry. Even ferocious winds could not penetrate if the structure was sound. And I’m sure, there they would sit through the blizzards, using the time for meticulous bead work or carving of tools or making dolls. They must’ve engaged in particularly important conversation. They must’ve known each other well.
The wind outside shows no sign of abatement. Birds are clinging precariously to the feeders adjacent to the windows. They have been there for hours, since first light. They are as much hiding from the wind as they are eating. The feeders hang in the lee on the southwest side of the house. My visitors are small birds: goldfinches, house finches, nuthatches, chickadees, sparrows, titmice, and once today, a Carolina wren on the suet and a redpoll on the thistle! Their flights in and out are suicide missions, but protected by the eave next to the house, they relax and enjoy a leisurely breakfast. I filled the feeders just before the wind started to blow last night. My bird friends must be fed. They have been huddled together all night in some protected location, puffed up to keep each other warm, and now they are out for breakfast. I will have to fill the feeders before the end of today.
Blizzards feel dangerous. If you went outside and stayed out with no shelter, you could certainly die. It is a weather event that makes us feel vulnerable and small, helpless, mortal. It stirs a certain emotion that has a frenzied air. Even before it begins, it is the talk of the town. People jostle through the supermarket, sweeping the shelves clean of staples and easy-to-cook food. I always wonder if those people are just eating all day, considering what they have bought. The line at Ace Hardware was about 20 customers deep, and not a snow shovel to be found. Did those folks NOT have a shovel before now? I have a snow shovel that my parents owned since the 70s. It’s downstairs waiting for me to dress up and plow my way through the drifts.
Or maybe I’ll just sit here and watch the birds eat.