Tag Archives: Winter

April (Snow) Showers 1

April (Snow) Showers

This past Friday, Heath and I drove to Longmont, CO. The gray skies turned white on the way back, and snow began falling.

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When I woke up on Saturday morning, a winter wonderland greeted me.

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I love winter and snow. Yet, the high temperatures of 80 degrees on multiple days last week and the fact that we’re heading into May made me less welcoming than I usually am to our surprise winter guest. I decided I didn’t want to go anywhere. So, I picked up my phone, opened the MeetUp App, and changed my RSVP from Yes to No for the cold water plunge I’ve been attending semi-regularly at a park in Boulder.

I felt good about my decision, even when I second-guessed myself. During those moments, I practiced some compassionate self-talk and told myself that I was allowed to change my mind, especially because it would take me over an hour to get to the park on the bus. I especially wasn’t keen to wear my wet bathing suit under my clothes for the long bus ride back to Lafayette (where I’m currently housesitting).

Then, I took my new favorite friend, Arthur, out for our morning walk.

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Everyone, meet Arthur!

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Arthur is a big love bug and one of the goober-iest dogs I’ve ever known. We both enjoy naps on the couch, which means we get along well.

While I was walking Arthur on Saturday morning, a small beam of sunlight broke through the clouds and shone down on us. I immediately felt overcome that I had made the wrong decision – I needed to go to the cold water plunge instead of staying home. I still had enough time to make the bus, and that’s exactly what I did.

As I rode the bus, I marveled at the beautiful winter landscape that befell me. I couldn’t see the mountains because of the cloud cover, but snow-covered prairies stretched for miles. This was definitely the right decision.

At least, that’s what I thought until I almost missed my bus stop because I had been listening to an audiobook on my phone. I jumped up, grabbed my bag with towels and other cold plunge necessities, and hopped off the bus.

About twenty feet from the bus, I stopped cold (pun intended). I reached up to my head. My glasses weren’t there. With a sinking heart, I remembered I had set them down on the seat next to me. I took them off because I can’t read with them on, and I wanted to make sure I could quickly look at my Google Maps app in case I couldn’t remember my bus stop (oh, the irony).

I turned around. If I sprinted, I may be able to reach the bus before it turned the corner. But the Achilles tendon on my left foot has been inflamed for nearly two months. So, I wavered. And I lost my chance.

Needing to do something, I pulled out my phone and found the number for the Boulder transit lost and found. To my surprise, even though it was a Saturday, they had actual human beings you could speak with to help you figure out where and when you could catch the same bus to retrieve your lost item. The incredibly kind woman gave me two different times, and I vowed to be at one of them.

Because there was nothing else I could do at that moment, I did my best to push away my worry that my glasses would be forever gone. Who would want prescription glasses? I told myself. Instead, I focused on the beautiful (albeit sad) juxtaposition of the bright spring flowers covered in snow.

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By the time I arrived at the park, I felt better. I would be reunited with my glasses, and all would be well. My mind mainly focused on our deep breathing exercises, and I only would worry about my glasses every so often.

I completely forgot about my glasses the moment we entered the creek.

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I’m waving at a bike rider! For privacy reasons, I blurred out the faces of group members.

Based on my past experiences, I would guess that the water was somewhere around 38 degrees Fahrenheit. Ninety-five percent of my body and mind love it! The remaining 5% is in my feet, and once we settle on a place to live (fingers crossed, we’ll know soon), one of my first purchases is going to be water shoes for future cold water plunges.

Today was extra special because of the beauty of the snow. I enjoyed the company and the connection, and the cold plunge itself was everything I wanted it to be. Yes, I had definitely made the right decision to be here. Everything would work out with my glasses.

After the plunge, I felt great joy and optimism as I made my way to the Boulder Public Library. I planned to hang out there until it was time to meet the bus I had ridden that morning. Before I knew it, it was time to head to the bus stop.

When the bus pulled up, I felt relief when I saw it was, in fact, the same driver from this morning. I greeted him and asked if anyone had turned in my glasses.

I held my breath.

No, he told me. He had even done a sweep of the bus. But look around, he encouraged.

So I did. They weren’t on the seat I had left them, nor were they on the floor. Every time the bus stopped, I scoped out different sections of the floor in case they had fallen and were sliding around. Sadly, nothing.

All too soon, I had to give up hope that my glasses would magically appear. But I felt determined to do everything I could to get them back, so when my bus stop came, I approached the driver again to give him an update. He was kind and courteous, and I left feeling optimistic that perhaps someone would turn them in.

About thirty seconds after I got off the bus, I again stopped cold (pun even more intended). This time, I had left my gloves behind!

I had been so focused on my glasses and ensuring I talked to the driver that I left them the seat next to me.

Seriously!?!?!?!

I had hoped that by the time I wrote this story, there would be a wonderful moral about listening to the little voice inside my head or how everything works itself out. But, alas, I am still stuck in the middle of it without my glasses. By no means do I think the story is over. How it’s going to resolve itself is still a mystery.

In the meantime, I will dig out an old pair of glasses from my luggage, snuggle with Arthur, and hope for the best.

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Take the Longer Walk 10

Take the Longer Walk

With approximately ten weeks left to our time in Norfolk (we’ve been given an April/May departure from our long-term housesitting job), I’ve been savoring some of my favorite activities. At the top of my list of favorites is walking Annie.

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I especially enjoy walking Annie in the wintertime. Cold feels exhilarating to me and the Barbour Woods look especially magical when covered in snow. Add in a blue sky and you’ve got a winter wonderland that’s perfect for romping.

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On our usual walk this past Tuesday, I didn’t want the experience to end. Annie was having a great time zooming around and I was enjoying the extra solitude that snow brings to the woods.

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But, I also had other places to be that afternoon and other things to do.

So the question became: should we take a second trail for a longer walk or should we head home after our usual romp around the Swamp Trail?

Friends, we took a second trail. Annie and I headed to the Beechwood Loop for an extra romp.

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I’m so glad we did.

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The number of romps we have left together is finite. Even if we came back to Norfolk in January to visit, who’s to say Annie or I would be healthy enough to take a longer walk. Or maybe the ground would be too icy. Or maybe there wouldn’t be any snow.

Should I take the longer walk with Annie?

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Yes!

Always yes.

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These 10 weeks are going to go by way too quickly.

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A Different Kind of Tired 19

A Different Kind of Tired

I have re-discovered a new form of exhaustion! The good news is that this re-discovery means I’m sleeping well enough to notice. The bad news is that, well, I’m exhausted. I’m calling it bone-weary tired because it’s not just mental. This tiredness has seeped into my infrastructure. It comes with the territory of being a housesitter.

After fifteen consecutive months in the same housesit (phooey to you, covid), the owners finally made it home from being abroad. Fifteen months is a long time to housesit, and the effort and diligence of packing up, moving out, and making sure the house was ready to welcome their family home took several days of nonstop work. Up early. Late to bed. Oh, and also work at the library in the meantime.

Did I mention the ice storm? Yes, because there was also an ice storm that hit Norfolk on Friday, February 4. The storm itself was nothing special. Except a few tree limbs hung so low in the driveway that for three days, I couldn’t drive it.

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Packing your car is not easy when you have to walk approximately an eighth of a mile one way on solid ice. Nevertheless, I did it. It helped to have the best form of motivation — mother nature in all her icy glory!

In the days following the ice storm, Norfolk turned into a sparkling ice palace thanks to the thick coating of ice everywhere and the brilliant blue skies and sunshine. I’ve never been so happy being so exhausted.

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As I walked up and down the driveway over and over, I marveled at the wonder around me.

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I also had my buddy Fergus as a companion, but I’m not sure he appreciated the splendor as much as I did. He likes to run, sniff, and be as cute as possible.

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So even though I’m bone-weary tired, I got to spend a lot of time outside enjoying myself. I also chuckled to myself more than once to be careful what you wish for. As you may recall, in my last blog post I was craving functional fitness. I certainly got it this past week, and then some.

I’m also keeping track this year of invigorating experiences since I had one early on. The standings so far:

Most Invigorating: My walk with Annie dog in the woods on January 11

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Runner Up: Packing up my car after an ice storm, February 5-6.

Starting on Thursday, I have five days of vacation. They cannot get here soon enough. My bones and brain need it. And the best part — I’ll be with my buddy Fergus the entire time.

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A New Challenge in 2022! 30

A New Challenge in 2022!

This winter has been nothing short of wonky for Norfolk. December ended with warmer temperatures than usual, a lot of rain, and barely a dusting of snow. January also started off the same way. The second week of January changed everything – a few inches of snow and some chilly temperatures!

Just how chilly? On Tuesday, January 11th the temperature was -8°F with the wind chill. That day also happened to be one of my scheduled walks with Annie. I asked Annie’s mom how long she thought Annie could be out in the cold. Annie’s mom said she was more worried about me.

Pish posh! I replied (though not quite in those words). I believe that because my formative years were spent on an ice-skating rink, my blood carries a small percentage of ice in it.

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I was not at all worried about myself being in the chilly temperatures, especially when I wear the proper attire.

In the case of Tuesday’s temperatures, appropriate wear meant hat, gator, gloves, hand warmers, fleece-lined pants, LL Bean socks, Xero winter boots, and my Columbia Omni Heat coat that is filthy dirty but I remain steadfastly committed to because I only paid 75 cents for it while volunteering in Churchill, Manitoba.

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Annie and I set off with determination to complete our full loop of the Swamp Trail in the Barbour Woods. With blue skies that stretched for miles and a glorious sun for company, I felt confident we could do it.

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And I was right!

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By the end of our walk, my brain was awash in all the feel-good neurotransmitters – serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins. When I returned Annie home, I reported that our walk was “the most invigorating thing I’ve done all year.”

Since the year was only 11 days old, I’m not sure I impressed anyone.

But I did come up with the idea that this walk with Annie will be the benchmark for my experiences in 2022. Anything notable that happens, I will compare it to how I felt on that cold winter’s day with Annie in the woods. By the end of 2022, I’ll have a list of my best moments.

Anyone want to guess how many will involve dogs?

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Smudge and Twiggles Save Christmas

For the last 10 years, a children’s book writer named Susanna Leonard Hill has hosted a holiday writing contest. Last year I entered a story entitled Christmas Peach Pie, and out of a few hundred submissions, I was in the final twelve. Voting ensued and I won third place! I’m now querying that story to agents and editors, so we’ll see what happens.

This year the theme was “Holiday Helper.” The stories are always judged on : 1) kid appeal; 2) adherence to theme; 3) quality of story; 4) quality of writing; 5) originality and creativity; and 6) following directions, including the strict word limit of 250 words).

I hadn’t planned on entering this year. But, the prizes seemed pretty good, and a story popped into my mind. I cranked it out in one sitting, made some minor edits and submitted it to the contest.

And….

I didn’t win. Not in the top 12 and not even an honorable mention or special shoutout.

What a holiday bummer.

Except….

I really love the story I wrote (scroll down to the bottom of the post to read it). It features my favorite children’s story elements: talking animals being silly. I especially love a good dog story, and this one features my buddy, Smudge. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss this guy.

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This week was especially hard for me because we got almost 14 inches of snow and there was no moment of joy as I opened the door for the dogs to run outside and witness their snow-fall antics.

Heath and I laugh often over the time we got so much snow, there was no distinction between the porch and the sidewalk. Smudge tore out the door, promptly belly flopped off the front porch and then swam a small circle before coming back inside, very upset at how the whole situation went down.

The absence of these moments in my life is one of the hardest adjustments with losing our Norfolk family pack.

We did, however, get to romp with Annie for a bit in the snow.

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Doesn’t she look cute? I think she might have part Sasquatch in her, the way the snow freezes on her in such a becoming manner.

For those of you who celebrate, I wish you all a Merry Christmas! For all of us who are missing loved ones this Christmas, I’m holding you especially tight in my heart.

Now, without further ado, I give you:

SMUDGE AND TWIGGLES SAVE CHRISTMAS

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Smudge patrolled the yard for the tenth time that night.  

“Anything yet?” Twiggles the squirrel hopped from branch to branch as she shadowed the black Lab.  

“Noth – hold on!” Smudge sniffed the air. Reindeer! Wrapping paper! Coal! 

“He’s here,” howled Smudge. “Let’s go.” 

Smudge and Twiggles scampered to the house. Three years of Christmas Eve patrolling and so far, they had only spotted the backsides of nine reindeer and a bumper sticker that read I brake for elves.  

In his excitement, Smudge started barking. “SANTA! HEY SANTA! 

“HO, HO, OOOOOOOOH!”  

CRASH! 

Smudge and Twiggles stared at the lump of red and white velvet in front of them.  

“What do we do now?” Twiggles poked the lump. Nothing happened.  

“I think we’re supposed to put on the suit. I saw it on TV once with the humans.”  

Twiggles and Smudge looked at each other. “Dibs,” called Smudge. 

“Nuts,” said Twiggles “How about we split it? You take the pants. I’ll take the shirt. Then we can deliver presents together!” 

They burrowed their way into the mounds of velvet. A wind began to whirl, magic began to twirl and … 

POOF! 

Smudge and Twiggles found themselves on the roof sitting in Santa’s sleigh.  

“What are you supposed to be?” asked Rudolph. 

Santa’s best helpers ever!” yipped Smudge. 

Oh, boy,” said Dasher“This is going to be some night.”  

“Merry Christmas to all,” howled Smudge as the sleigh took off.  

“And to all a good night,” squeaked Twiggles. “Which way do we go?

 

 

 

Cool Winter Blues

Our daylight hours are dwindling. With the shortest day of the year only two weeks away, here in Norfolk we’re down to about 9 hours of daylight each day.

That’s a lot of darkness we’re up against.

On the other hand, it means that when I walk Dodger on Sundays, I get to see some spectacular light displays shining through the tree branches in the Barbour Woods.

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I know winter is not the favorite season for most people. I think I’m in the minority as it’s my favorite season.

At least, I’m pretty sure it’s my favorite season. I do enjoy the leaves changing in fall and the promise of new life and growth in spring. And then we have those long summer days.

Maybe my favorite season is the one I’m currently experiencing?

Anyway, I do love winter. I especially love being outside when it’s sunny and cold. With the proper equipment and clothes, the experience can be wonderful.

On my walk with Dodger this afternoon, the light cast a gentle blue tint over the woods.

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It’s magical, don’t you think?

And let’s be honest — Dodger is once handsome devil!

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Feeling grateful to have this experience with one of my favorite dogs! At the same time, the experience is blue in other ways. Much like I wrote about when the leaves were changing color a few weeks ago, I can’t help but think of my Dad and how he didn’t know it was his last fall in 2019, just like he didn’t know it would be his last chance to see snow fall last winter. I suppose this cycle of “lasts” will continue as I work through my grief.

The only way forward is through. It’s not easy. It’s certainly not quick. But it is good. I think I’m starting to understand the expression good grief. 

Thank goodness I have such a wonderful support system in place, with includes Heath, and Cecily and Dodger here in Norfolk.

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Speaking of them, I managed to coax Heath and Cecily into participating in an Advent wreath lighting for UCC Norfolk’s online service this Sunday. You can catch us around the 11-minute mark. Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1308360392861281

I hope you all have a wonderful week. Maybe it be blue in the very best ways!