...and everything else. That's to say we've been snowed in for the better part of last week. No driving, no internet, just the quiet woods and us sitting by the fire.
I don't know whether ya'll have missed me, but I sure as heck have missed you guys. It's fun to come back to slew of beauteous postings and fun surprises, but a little intimidating too. I got to get on this getting my computer fixed thing.
The snow days just kind of illustrated this perfectly. I felt a little cut off from the world. Not just my friends and neighbors, all hunkered up in their homes, but also the wider world of news and weather, of faraway friends and online pen pals.
As much as I love reading and scribbling notes and writing my journal, this blog has become an important outlet for my ideas, my obsessions and my connections to some of the most wonderful womyn I know.
As I go about my daily routine about a million ideas for posts wander in and out of my mind, serious and frivolous, but without an outlet to type them up, they wither and vanish into wherever it is that ideas go when you don't use them. The same goes for my endless notebooks for story ideas, that simply don't translate in my awkward long-hand. And while other endeavors have flourished in this time, kitted hats and mufflers, exciting collaborations, I honestly feel off balance without writing and publishing things every few days.
I used to think that I kept this log just for my own little self, but now I find that I miss the written exchange of thoughts it provides.
And where at first I was curious to see what a little brake from computers might do, especially the positive changes it might offer, I'm now purely frustrated by how its hampering my creativity. Living and learning, I guess.
In the absence of such Universal Touring Machines, we have however whiled away the idle hours with keeping the homefires burning, making infusions, doing crafts, sledding and marveling at how different our little world looks under a light dusting of snow. Oh magical, glorious snow.
As a matter of fact, C. and I used some of our idle time in calculating how many snowdays a kid from this area might have in his or her whole childhood on average and came up with less than twenty.
Now where I'm from you have an average of at least three full months of snow, so about a 100 days a year when there's snow on the ground. So between the ages of two and twelve (which we approximated to be the ages when you can really enjoy all goodness of snow, from being only semi in charge of your limbs to when you become an uppity teenager.) an average Finnish kid gets about a thousand snow days!
For all the frosty forests and endless snowdrifts I've experienced in my North Country life, I've hardly known how joyous a little snow can be when you live without it most of the year.
And I don't ever remember school being canceled because there was snow. Even when I had to dig my way through drifts higher than my knees to get there. If it snowed a lot over night, the city would only get to plowing the streets by the time I had to get to school, in effect piling snow onto the sidewalk, making kids crawl over high piles of it to cross the streets, all the while lugging skies and poles, with skates hanging from their shoulders to balance their school bags.
That's right, folks, in Finland in the winter ice skating and skiing are pretty much the only options for gym class. No cozy indoor sports like basketball and balancing on a beam. Instead, we got to ski over the frozen lake on a Friday afternoon class and if you didn't make it back by the time school was over, well, that was your own damn fault.
Now, never having been an athletic child, I already hated everything about school sports, but the winter just about killed me. For years I remember just drudging along on my skis, my fingers numb with cold and my nose constantly running. Ice skating was another nightmare, imagine a sport where your lack of grace instantly gets you a broken tailbone, or in the very least frost bite on your toes.
Even if the rumor did have it that if it got colder than -22 degrees Fahrenheit, you didn't have to go skating during phys.ed. none of my sadist gym teachers ever acknowledged such limitations to the human endurance.
Now I keep praying the Weather Gods for a long enough cold snap to form thick enough ice to test out our "new" Goodwill skates. Out here in the land of near perpetual precipitation my few pitiful skating moves make a winter athlete well above the curve. Time's they are a changin'...
I'm not alone in my snow bliss, not by a long shot. Everyone loves it: the kids who get to miss school, the parents who get to miss work, the animals that get to frolic in it and sample it, stare at the altered landscape in wonder.
It is the rare opportunity to bust out your sleds and skis and...boats and hurtle down abandoned hillsides, or even roads now devoid of the offending automobiles.
Snow gives our surroundings a strange, otherworldly sheen, accentuating some features, while erasing others. There's a sense of newness and cleanness about it.
The most fun though, we figured, is following animal tracks, finding where the otters come out of the water, or where the raccoons wander at night, or what patterns we ourselves leave in our wake.