From The Book of Firsts: The Snow

Saturday morning, January 23, 2016

This is my first snow storm living where I am in the mountains. The conditions on Spook Rock are as follows; winds are coming in from the northeast at 16mph with intervals of heavier gusts. Small snowflakes are coming down on an angle and moving quickly. Visibility is .3 miles and the streets are mainly white. As of now, I only have a few inches of snow. The weatherman and all of his friends told us to prepare for more than 12.

The old headstones in the cemetery at Wesley Chapel are laced with snow. Some of the older and smaller headstones will be buried in white before too long. The sky is a soft shade of pale gray. The cloud conditions are too thick for me to see the Harriman Mountain behind my house. The tall evergreens are the only color in an otherwise gray scenery. The evergreen branches look like outstretched arms with snow resting on them from the fingertips up to the biceps.

My home is a contemporary chalet located on a somewhat large plot and tucked away on a quiet street. The skylights on the roof of my home are covered with snow. The naturally brown wooden siding acts like a contrast in the white surrounding of this so-called blizzard.
The view from my writing loft overlooks the road, which has been plowed several times; however, the snow is falling at such a rate that the roads are still slick and white.

I can hear the wind gusting in spurts. It sounds as if earth is breathing heavy. Then the wind pauses for a second before starting again. I suppose the wind pauses when the earth inhales—and after the pause, I can hear  the earth exhale when the wind begins to gust again.
On heavier gusts, the snow seems to fly sideways—almost swirling upwards in circles because the snowflakes are so light and the wind is much heavier. When the wind becomes heavy, the snow swirls the way a tiny white feather would flip in circles and sway gently to the ground. In this case, I am watching more than one billion snowflakes do their impersonation of tiny white feathers, flipping in circles, twirling in the wind, and finally falling gently to the ground.

Haverstraw Road is the road behind my property. This road has also been plowed several times, but the white covering of fallen snow refuses to give way. My property is long and uphill. I am far enough away from Haverstraw, but high enough in elevation to see the affecting snowfall on the log cabin’s property behind me on Haverstraw.

My snow-blower is running. My generator is in less than working condition, so I am hoping for the best (to say the least). The quiet is unbelievable. It is only interrupted by the outside sound of snowplows that drive along spook rock and push snow into either mouth of my  semi-circled driveway.

I have decided to arm myself with a large, oversized cup of café mocha. I am inside in the beginning of what is supposed to be a long storm. And you know what? I really don’t mind.

The heat works. So does my stove. The bedroom is warm and the comforter across my bed is soft and cozy. I have enough pillows to lay my head on either couch. I have a deck to stand on which elevates me high to look down along the rear of my property. There is no need for sound on a day like this. It seems Mother Nature is playing her own symphony.

The chairs and bench on my deck have pillows of snow on each arm and across the seats. Again, the snow is not very deep as of yet—but the intensity of the snowfall has increased over the last few minutes. To call this beautiful is an understatement. I see this as perfect.

I have not lived in the mountains for a snow fall since I was 18. Of course, this is when I lived on The Farm in the town of Hancock, New York. Snowfall was different then. I suppose winter was different then too. I certainly know I was different.  

I have a good memory of one snow fall in particular. This was in February of 1990. The Old Man was laid to rest one month before. I was sad and uncertain which direction my life would travel. I was unsure if I was able to adhere to the idea of sobriety and a life with any mind-altering substance or easy emotional escapes. I was unable to consider the ideas of faith—but I was willing to lend myself to the idea that there is a better way of life. And if I listened well enough, or at least faked as if I listened, maybe that better way of life would seep in and help me change.

I was living on a farm with a tall red barn. There was a main house with two bunk houses on either side of it. There was a trailer home  up the hill and behind the main house. There were huge fields surrounding us—a long dirt road that ran up to a main road, which was miles away. There was nothing around the farm but mountains, hills, and nature. There were no city lights nearby to molest the nighttime sky. The only lights in the sky at night were the moon and brightly shining stars.

There were no crowded streets to congest the town or crowds to clog the sidewalks.  I was far enough away from my Long Island town and the city streets. I was at a distance that was safe enough away from my former self. I was far enough away to begin my change, which I now see as a fortunate transformation that saved me from myself. It was here on this farm that I underwent the necessary growth to become someone different.
However, at the time I was at a loss. I was young and unsure. I was faced with life on life’s terms and introduced to the fact that mortality is real. It was clear to me; life does not come with any guarantee. Tomorrow is not guaranteed, nor is any minute after the next.

I was young and rebellious, but faced with the unlikable choices that came in the form of a judgment by our legal system. My choice; either I spend my time on The Farm until the courts and the owners of The Farm feel that I am able to successfully and responsibly return home, or I complete one year, plus 90 days in a correctional facility. Faced with this reality, and living with a small-framed body, too weak to defend myself; too light to fight and too thin to win, I saw it best to submit instead of resist.

On the day of a particular snowstorm, there was no power on the farm. The snow had stopped falling but the sky was still a soft shade of gray. It was a shade of gray that would perhaps match the soft gray color in God the Father’s beard. We were a house of maybe 40-45 people. All of us in the house were similar in one way or another. We all had problems and we all needed help in some way or another. There was little for us to do on this snow day. And there certainly were no sleds for us to go sleigh riding on the tall hill on the field behind the main house.

One of the house members came up with an idea.
Her name was Elise.
Elise suggested, “We can use garbage bags.”

“We can cut a hole in the bottom for our heads and a hole on each side for our arms to stick out.  Then we put the bags over our heads and we can slide down the hill on our backs or on our stomachs.”

“My father taught us this when we were little,” said Elise with a level of cheer.

I listened half-heartedly.  I was too content to stay in my sadness. I was too content with mourning the loss of my father that I refused to let go or feel enthusiasm for anything other than self-pity and sorrow. Admittedly, I put the holes in the garbage bag as directed and then pulled the garbage bag over my head while pushing my arms through the holes under protest. In my mind, I refused to enjoy myself. I refused to let go. Come hell or high water; I refused to submit.

I did not believe in the bag’s ability to slick my front or back enough to act as a perfect substitute for a sled. Had I not felt so beaten at the time, perhaps, I would have argued. Had I not felt too broken, perhaps I would have felt strong enough to fight back and complain. Fortunately, I was too beaten and broken to argue.

High upon a snow-covered hill, the entire membership of The Farm readied to lay flat on their stomachs and slide down the hill. The weather was cold and my toes were chilled enough to feel the sting of cold snow covering my boots. I was dressed heavily in warm clothes. A hood covered over head with a hat covering beneath my hood. My hands were covered in gloves, but same as my feet, the cold left a painful sting in my fingers.

Up next, it was my turn to head down the hill. I laid flat on my stomach and shot down over a path, which was made smooth for us by our farm’s membership to have a better sleigh ride. Yes, I protested this. No, I did not want to go down the hill with a garbage bag over me with my head. I did not want to slide down on my chest or on my backside.  I wanted to go inside where it was warm and I was safe to carry on with my miserable routine.

As I laid flat on the hill and slid quickly downward, I felt the wind rush across my face. My body leapt after sliding down over a bump. I picked up speed and continued to rush downhill; moving faster than my misery could catch. In a word—it was phenomenal.

After several passes down the hill, I no longer thought about my sadness. I no longer thought about the stinging pain in my toes or my fingers. The cold was not so bad and the snowfall was far from my enemy.

Elise . . .
I assume she never knew the gift she gave me on this day. I saw Elise differently after this. I saw her as family, or as a sister, and as someone that taught me how to sleigh fast enough to escape my own sorrow.

Before today, this was my last memory of a snowfall in the mountains.
Today, however, I am making a new memory.
this is my first snowfall here on Spook Rock

Above my desk where I write is a sign that reads, “Live. Love. Eat.”

Today, I will do just that. I will live a little and eat a little. I will love a lot, and I will probably shovel a lot as well. I will give the snow-blower a test run soon, just to make my life easier later. If at all possible, I will find a large plastic bag and rush down the long, somewhat steep hill on the side of my property.

So let it snow because honestly, I welcome every inch

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