Posts Tagged ‘winter’

It is January and it is cold. The wind makes it feel even worse. Fortunately, I am a fan of layering. Base layer, fleece, and a down vest topped with an insulated barn coat is a good counter to January weather. Unfortunately, I have had a persistent itch that seems to crop up inside my right shoulder blade. Not only is it in one of the most inconvenient places imaginable (how can anyone reach that spot?), it seems to crop up at the most inconvenient times.

The Farm Show is a good way to get out of the cold. I walk through the indoor barns to see livestock and remember things that have happened here before. My daughter Karissa once hid from us and was found in the pig barn, snuggled up in a stall with a sow and piglets (perhaps a good way to stay warm in January). My daughter Keightley once fell asleep while on my shoulders and spilled her unfinished milk shake down the back of my neck (not a good way to stay warm in January). On this occasion I rode the mechanical bull and played tug of war with a Belgian. I ate rabbit, barbecued goat, and took home a quart of trout chowder. Some of that is more true than others, but I did stay warm.

In what might be another effort to stay warm, I have been reading books about cooking over fire. Weber’s Way to Grill and Around the Fire may not actually warm me up, but they do give me an urge to start a fire. Since an early age I have encountered the same problem. I couldn’t watch football on television without wanting to go out and play. I couldn’t read Old Man and the Sea without desiring to catch a Marlin. I watch The Revenant and want to fight a bear. I read Around the Fire and it makes me want to cook food over fire.

So I put on beef chunks to add to a minestrone soup. I put on potatoes with garlic and oil for mashing. I put on sausages and rib meats to add to a red sauce. I put on corn and black beans to add to a salsa. I put on venison backstrap to add straight into my mouth. As warm as the fire is, its warmth is only temporary.

So sometimes the best thing to do is start moving. To put on layers and get out for a hike. The energy of movement does its job and generates warmth that is trapped inside the layers. To make things even better, the chill on my face as I watch my breath go out into the sky reminds me that the rest of me is warm. This is my favorite way to stay warm in January. Everything is good, that is until I feel an unbearable itch inside my right shoulder blade. Four layers down and in the most difficult place to reach. At least I’m warm.



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March Days

I really like March days that come with a hanging chill in the air. Not the same chill that came with the January air. Still, the kind of chill that reminds you it is not yet spring. The kind of day when the forecast calls for snow and you can feel it before you see it. The kind of day that makes you glad you added another layer before leaving the house. The kind of day that makes you glad for hats and gloves and insulated boots.

I really like March days where a brisk pace or a steep climb increase not only the heart rate but the body temperature. The kind of day when the cold against your face is countered by the comfort of wearing multiple layers. The kind of day when a deep breath of cold oxygen can be followed by watching warm carbon dioxide floating away into the sky. Today is one of those days and I really like it.

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A Decorated Season

“Bright lights wrap around trees, indoors and out. On some houses, lights start at ground level and climb to the rooftops. On a clear night, it looks as if they are strung across the sky and come down on the other side of the street. The season is decorated with both strings of light from Wal-Mart and the likes of Betelgeuse and Polaris.”

(from Participant: Field Notes from Here and Now, p. 16)

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Getting Outside

Earlier this week I was walking toward the east as the sun was climbing higher in the clear sky. It is February but the air feels like spring. A red tailed hawk flies into my view. He comes nearly overhead and then circles back toward the east. As he gets closer to the sun the light shines brilliantly through his outer feathers. As if he is outlined with angelic pinstripes. It is like he flew into a Thomas Kinkade painting. I watch until he is out of sight before I move on. It is just good to be outside.

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“I try to spend as much time as possible in the winter forest. It is a great place to sharpen the senses. Contrast, movement, and sound call attention to themselves in a hurry. Things are more visible in the bare deciduous woods, including evidence that something has already been there before you arrived. Then there is the winter forest at night. The senses sharpen more clearly. Temperature heightens the sense of cold on your nose and cheeks. Looking at the sky feels like a spectator sport. Noise and movement gain your attention quickly. It is not difficult to find yourself on the alert. If you are nothing else in the winter woods at night, you are aware. Sometimes you hear something, see something, discover something that makes this all feel like an adventure. But the fact is, in the forest it is always likely that you were discovered first. Some things are sure to grab attention, like the cold of a winter night. Other things are subtle and require sharpened senses. I hope to be attentive.”

– from Participant: Field Notes from Here and Now, p. 29

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I am a traveler in the forest. Winding my way through the dark, through a light snow and through the trees toward the trail that will take me back to the road. I see my breath against the clear sky where a slim crescent moon and a brilliant evening star shine the brightest.

I am one who listens to the night. Waiting for a song or a call in the distance but all I hear is the wind in the branches of nearby trees. Blowing across some of these creates a whistling sound. Blowing against others causes a percussion effect. Tonight’s entertainment is acoustic and instrumental.

I am a weather watcher. I think of Annie Dillard’s comment “We watch the weather. Otherwise, creation would be playing to an empty house.”

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Good Morning

“I step into a day where stars are moving across the sky. Where the moon is waxing. Where leaves are not visible in their winter state. Where the earth is crunchy underfoot this time of year. Where living creatures sleep through the winter. And will soon wake to sing. Where seasons change and days grow longer. I step into a day where God has already been extremely active. I can’t wait.”

– from Participant: Field Notes from Here and Now, p.23

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