I go walking: Spring, actually

The numbers have been crunched, the stats tallied. We weren’t just imagining it. It really was the worst winter any of us had ever experienced. When it came to cold, we even managed to outdo the surface of Mars. It’s now the third week of April, and there is still a sizeable pile of snow on my patio.

ice floe 2But the river is opening up, so I’m declaring it spring, even if I do still have to wear gloves on the way to work in the morning. This is the season when I can scrape ice off my car window when I leave for work and turn on the air conditioning on the way home. In one afternoon I will encounter people out walking in shorts, passing people who are still wearing parkas.

geeseSpring has been so late this year that the first wave of geese to arrive turned back south again because we were still in such a deep freeze. They are returning again now — each day there are more and more of them, wading in half-frozen roadside puddles and looking perplexed by the piles of snow still dotting the brown grass.

Some of my walking routes are still such an awful mixture of mud and ice that I am, for the most part, sticking to pavement until the thaw ends. Wandering through residential streets affords me a view of the aftermath of plowing this winter’s exceptional quantity of snow. Huge chunks of curb, snapped off by the force of the plows, sit perched atop snow banks that are studded with the road sand and salt.

broken curb 2Everything is brown. The grass is brown.  The trees are brown. The geese are brown. The river is always sort of brown. Even the snow that remains along the side of the roads is brown.

Except the sky, which, in all its blueness, promises that no matter how seemingly endless this winter has been, eventually things will turn green again.

picnic table 1






Shirtsleeves and slush

Today’s Daily Prompt asks, “What do you love most about the city / town / place that you live in?”

It’s been a long winter.

Not that I’m complaining. Winter is a big part of the city that I live in. A big part of the constantly changing cycle of seasons. I like that I live in a place that is characterized by a blend of comfortable pattern and constant change.

One of the reasons that this has been a particularly brutal winter is that it has been too much of the same thing. Too much cold. Too much wind chill. Too much snow. Winter’s OK when the bitter days are broken up with moments of warm sun on your face. This winter has hammered relentlessly at us since late November. But today it finally felt like the worst just might be over.

Today, finally, the temperature crept above the 0°C mark. Today I left my down-filled coat at home, and went out in my fleece jacket. Today I took the garbage out in my shirtsleeves.  Today I turned off the baseboard heaters and opened up the patio door for the afternoon. The patio itself is still buried in a three-foot high snowdrift, but the air coming in felt lovely.

Today felt like spring was waking up.

One of the spring things I had to do today was put more washer fluid in my car to combat the muddy splash from the melting snow. Spring is messy here. Melting snow means slushy, mucky streets with puddles waiting for a bus to come along to splash unsuspecting pedestrians. This year we have a lot of snow, so we can anticipate a lot of slush. Spring is also all the sand that was scattered to provide some traction on icy winter streets, now piled in dirty mounds on boulevards. It’s litter–paper coffee cups and cigarette butts that were hidden under the pristine whiteness of the snow–now emerging as a soggy mess. To the untrained eye, there’s nothing beautiful about March in Winnipeg.

And yet all that muck and mess is a sign of better things to come. You have to pass through the grey slush to get to green grass and flowers. March is messy, because March is change  and change is messy.

March is, admittedly, my least favourite month. I am impatient with March. I want to be through the messy part and into the new growth of April. But I know I need to wait–need to give the snow time to melt and nourish the roots of the aspen trees outside my door and transform the grass along the riverbank into a rich carpet of green. You have to live here to really appreciate what it means to know that the bitter cold of January and muck of March will give way to the lush green of June and the intense heat of July.

Snow Day

I live in a place that has been nicknamed Winterpeg, Manisnowba. I was born here. I learned to drive here, ice ruts and all. I have five decades of “remember the blizzard of [insert year]” memories. I think it feels “not so bad out” when the wind chill is -20° Celsius. But the scariest snow storm I ever travelled through was on a highway in the Maritimes.

We were on our way from the university town of Antigonish, Nova Scotia back to Moncton, New Brunswick to catch a flight home. The plan was to drive first to Sackville, New Brunswick to visit friends (a trip of about 2 1/2 hours), spend a night at the friends’ home, and then drive the half-hour on to Moncton the next day to catch an early afternoon flight. It should have been a leisurely trip.

The snow started falling a few hours before we left Antigonish. I had learned from my previous visit to Antigonish a few years earlier that, unlike Manitoba snow that keeps accumulating month after month until we can barely see over the snowbanks, Nova Scotia Snow can come and go completely many times over the course of a few winter weeks. And when it comes, it’s a different consistency than Manitoba snow. It’s wetter.

This storm was less like falling snowflakes, and more like raining slush. The result was a highway surface with the properties of a giant slip-and slide coated in cooking oil. After about 5 minutes of white-knuckle driving on this traction-free surface, I chickened out completely and turned the wheel over to my partner. He didn’t last much longer. By the time we had reached the New Glasgow exit we had both decided that this was not a good day to die, and so we pulled off the highway and checked into the first hotel we slid towards.

We called the Sackville friends to explain our plight, and arranged that we would stop there for a quick lunch before driving on to the Moncton airport. We entertained ourselves Christmas shopping at the mall across the street from the hotel, ordered a pizza, and went to bed praying that the storm would let up enough in the night so that we would be able to make our flight the next day.

Morning came and a call to the airline confirmed that our flight was still expected to leave on schedule, so we bundled our luggage back into the rental car and set out down the road.

The highway no longer felt greasy, but the snow was still coming down, so our progress was slow. While my partner drove I distracted myself by calling the airline at 30 minute intervals. Incredibly, they were still holding firm to our departure time. Finally it dawned on me that the chipper young woman who kept reassuring my that our flight was definitely on schedule was NOT looking out the window of her office tower at the swirling white. It probably wasn’t snowing at all in whatever city was home to her sunny call centre!

As we approached the outskirts of Sackville, I calculated that at the rate we were travelling we could not risk stopping for lunch. I phoned my friends and sadly conveyed our regrets. The nearer we got to Moncton, the deeper and heavier the snow became. We reached the first airport exit and discovered that the snow was so drifted in that the exit was completely impassable. We kept on chugging through the blowing snow until we finally reached a second, plowed (hooray!) airport exit.

Cognizant of the fact that we were cutting our check-in time mighty close, we sprinted from the rental car drop-off to the airline counter, where we were once again assured that the flight would be leaving on schedule. While I had been willing to concede this folly to the far-away call centre lady, such a stance seemed less credible coming from the ground crew.

“Have you looked out the window?” (I confess to being prone to sarcasm in moments of stress.)

But the computer (which was clearly taking its direction from someone who had NOT just spent half a day driving through a blizzard) said we were leaving on time, and so the staff faithfully checked our bags and issued us boarding passes.

Having driven past our lunch, we decided we had just enough time before boarding to get something to eat, so I secured a table at the airport food court while my partner went off to procure a couple of burgers. While I waited, I watched another prospective passenger in heated argument with an airline clerk who was trying to explain that he could not bring his enormous box of live lobsters on the plane because it was leaking profusely. I also watched Winnipeg musician Steve Bell and his tour manager check in, along with 32 big plastic storage bins full of gear.

I had only taken two bites of my hamburger when the voice on the intercom asked that all the passengers on our flight report back to the airline counter.

“So…,” said the windblown young man in the airline-issue parka, “So here’s the thing. We tried moving the plane into place for loading, and, well, it seems that it’s really slippery out there. Like, the plane was sliding around like crazy! So, yeah… we’re going to have to cancel the flight.”

And one by one they passed us back our bags, including all 32 of Steve Bell’s storage bins, as we negotiated new flight times and hunted up hotels in Moncton and cabs willing to brave the roads to take us there.

It took every ounce of self control I had left to resist the urge to phone the lady at the call centre to tell her our flight had been cancelled.

The Dance

After a week of driving around the city in the most terrifyingly icy conditions, I was quite committed to staying home today. Nevertheless, the need to get the rapidly drying Christmas tree out of the living room and off to the tree recycling depot forced inspired me to venture out in the -44° C wind chill. (For those of you operating in Fahrenheit, that translates into approximately -44° F. Cold is cold is cold.)

plow 1We dropped off the tree at a nearby park where it will wait for spring when city workers will feed it though a wood-chipper to prepare it for its next life as mulch and path covering. Then we dropped in briefly on my sister. On the way home, we were rewarded for venturing out in the cold with an opportunity to watch the snowplows at work.

I suspect that most of the drivers with whom I was sharing the road did not perceive this as an “opportunity.” It would be easy to see it just as an inconvenience, because the presence of the plows meant it took us 15 minutes to travel down a stretch of road that would normally take about 2 minutes. Maybe I would have considered it an inconvenience myself had I been in a hurry to get somewhere. But because I wasn’t in a hurry I was free to enjoy the dance.


I wonder sometimes if I am the only one who sees it. To me, the fleet of plows working its way down the road in tandem really does look like a dance. The grader leads, its powerful blade scraping the ice and snow off the road and leaving it to one side in long, lumpy windrows. Behind the grader, several front end loaders, weave back and forth, lifting the mounds of snow up off the roadways and onto the already mountainous snow banks.

I am in awe of their gracefulness, these huge beasts that seem to manoeuvre effortlessly in spaces cramped by traffic and other obstacles. The loaders in particular move with such elegance and precision they seem almost alive to me– like a massive animal, dancing in the snow. It is easy to forget that I am seeing a huge metal machine with a human driver, tucked up in his perch in the heated cab, animating the dance.

Front-end loader
Front-end loader

They are out working now because the traffic is less of an obstacle at night. When the rest of us are curled up in front of our TVs on a cold January night, these unsung heroes of the winter city are out sculpting the roadways. Do they ever perceive it as a dance? I often wonder.

And I often wonder what other dances I miss when I am hurrying about my life. How many times I fail to see the graceful and poetic because my haste only allows me to see the mechanical and utilitarian.

I’ve been suffering from a bit of cabin fever lately– feeling sorry for myself because the bitter cold is preventing me from going walking. Feeling like if only I could get out and go for a walk I could think more clearly, be more creative, think of more things to write. Forgetting that there are dances going on around me all the time in places I least expect them, if only I slow down long enough to watch.


Conjuring Canoes

It warmed up! It’s a balmy -14° C this evening (if you ignore the -25° C wind chill, and the drifting snow, and the storm warning, and the fact that for parts of the drive home I couldn’t make out the edges of the road.) It’s downright miserable out there. I’m glad to be home and not needing to go anywhere tonight, and I’m crossing my fingers in the hope that I will be able to get out of the parking lot to get to where I need to go in the morning.

This canoe passed by on one of my river walks back in September
This canoe passed by on one of my river walks back in September

And I’m thinking about canoes.

What, you are wondering, do canoes have to do with a blizzard?

Absolutely nothing, which is precisely the point. If I was sitting in a canoe right now it would mean that there was not a winter storm slowly imprisoning my car in its parking spot.

A couple of things have conspired to bring canoes to mind this evening.

I was sorting though some files of my long-ago writing, and I came across a piece I wrote when I was a teenager about canoeing in the rain. It’s not what you would call brilliant writing. OK I’ll be honest, it’s pretty terrible. I was going to quote some of it here, but thought better of it. Most of it is cringeworthy in an over-descriptive, trying-to-be-deep way. But it reminded me how much I love paddling in silence and observing things that you never see when you go crashing through the natural world in a motorized vehicle.

It also reminded me that my youngest daughter comes by her love of canoeing honestly.

Which is the other reason I’m thinking about canoes on this blizzardy January evening. Because camp registration always opens on the first Monday of January at 9:00 am. Last year I went to register her for camp on  the Tuesday and she ended up on a waiting list for her preferred session. (Thankfully she did eventually get in.) So my job on Monday morning is to boogie down to the YMCA near my office, as close to 9:00 am as possible, application form in hand, so that she can spend July in the blissful freedom of paddling, portaging and pitching tents in the Northern Ontario wilderness.

I confess, I’m a big-time planner and scheduler. Before the snow is gone, I will have the whole summer mapped out. I am always baffled by people who can get halfway through July before committing to a vacation date. The way I see it, when you live in a place that treats you to -25° C wind chill and four-foot-high snow banks for several months of the year, you don’t leave the summer to chance.

Once in a while I think it would be nice to take a more spontaneous approach to holidays. At work today I heard a story today about someone who got a last-minute invitation to escape the cold by visiting a friend in Phoenix, so she paid a huge extra fee to get an “emergency” passport. Who even knew there was such a thing? On the other hand, a study by a group of Dutch researchers demonstrated that the biggest boost to happiness occurs during the time spent anticipating the vacation. So it’s possible my lack of spontaneity is actually making me happier than I would be if I was running about doing things on a whim!

Paradoxical as it may be, the truth is that there is a lot of summer recreation that my family is able to enjoy precisely because I have spent cold winter nights plotting and planning. It’s worth conjuring canoes on a cold winter night if it makes it possible to paddle them six months later.

The video linked to below was made over the summer of 2013 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the canoeing program that my daughter loves. The video makes it clear why she loves it! (And if you happen to know my daughter, you might just catch a glimpse of her in the video!)

The Way of The Canoe from White Noise Productions on Vimeo.

Home, Frozen Home

When I set out for work yesterday morning the wind chill was -50 degrees Celsius. According to the astronomy department at the local museum, it was colder in my city yesterday than it was on the surface of Mars. So take note space entrepreneurs: if you’re thinking to pitch Mars as a tourist destination, Winnipeg is your prime market.

If you travel to Thompson to the north of Winnipeg (yes, there is stuff north of Winnipeg besides polar bears) you will be hard pressed to find a hotel room during the winter months. The population of the town swells in the coldest months of the year with car manufacturing companies on location to cold-test their vehicles. (Random thought: I wonder where the Mars Rover was cold-tested?)

Many years ago, on a tour of the canals of Venice, we learned about the risks and challenges of living on land that had been, rather tenuously, reclaimed from the sea. I commented that it seemed odd that people would opt to make their homes in such an unforgiving place. My partner turned to me with a look of incredulity and said, “Well, we live in Winnipeg.”

But honestly I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Call my crazy.

We’ve had record low temperatures in December. The streets– even the main arteries– are a corrugated mess of deep ice ruts that mean you take your life in your hands every time you change lanes. That is if you can actually figure out where the lanes are. The roads are littered with automotive debris from the unlucky ones. I’m wearing my smooshed-in bumper from my Christmas day mishap like a good-luck charm. I figure I’ve had my turn. Even so, I am white-knuckling my way through the exit ramps and intersections where the buildup is the worst. And in case the snow pack wasn’t enough, water mains keep bursting and turning streets into ersatz skating rinks.

I can’t remember seeing the roads this bad for this long. It seems to have been a perfect storm of heavy, warmish, snowfall followed by a deep freeze that has rendered the packed snow and ice resistant to the scraping of the snow plows.

But we’re still going places. Oh, I suspect that there were a few more people than usual opting for a New Year’s Eve night at home last night, but when I was still on the roads around 8:30 pm I was far from alone. It takes a lot more than ridiculous cold and treacherous driving conditions to keep a Winnipegger from carrying on with life.

Although, I have to admit at -50 I am not taking a lot of leisurely walks along the riverbank. I could, however, safely talk a walk on the river by now–that is if I didn’t mind risking frostbite and hypothermia. I contemplated suiting up and walking up to the road to take some pictures for this post, but since taking pictures requires the removal of my mitts, I decided that wasn’t happening.

Instead, I stumbled across this bit of fun from a Canadian business. This story is from Ontario, but the same spirit of thumbing one’s nose at the worst winter has to offer applies.

Christmas Angels

There’s a comfortable predictability to Christmas Eve church.  There will always be a little girl in a red velvet dress running up and down the aisles to remind me of a time when it was my own little girls doing the running. There will be a mountain of poinsettias in front of the altar, ready to be delivered to the parish shut-ins after the Christmas services are over. There will be the crèche, and the candles. There will be lots of people we see exactly once a year, including a lot of tall teenagerish-looking people who look faintly like a bunch of little kids I remember from Christmases not so long ago.

And of course the story is completely familiar. The long journey, the stable, the baby, and a bunch of shepherds who suddenly look up to discover they are surrounded by angels trumpeting the good news. This year it was the part about the angels that struck me the most. Perhaps I had angels on my mind after yesterday’s post. Perhaps it was the preacher’s assertion that if a host of angels showed up and told him to “be not afraid,” he was quite certain that he would be afraid nonetheless. But the shepherds, according to the story, drop everything they are doing and go off to see the baby on the word of the angels.

I think that’s why I am fascinated by the part of the angels in the story this Christmas– because, whatever theological significance they might have, for me right now they represent something about embracing the unexpected. As it turns out, some of the best things about this Christmas have been the unexpected. Daughter #1 was able to spend more of the day with us than anticipated. We had some last minute additions to our Christmas dinner table this evening.  Daughter #2 officially took up the baton as chief turkey cook while I ran an unexpected errand at the critical moment. We had to improvise around a couple of dinner traditions because of items that were inadvertently left behind, but it all fell wonderfully into place.

We even managed to embrace the less “angelic” unexpected events– like a bad skid on an icy road that resulted in me rear-ending another car on the way to my sister’s for brunch. No one was hurt. The other woman’s car didn’t have a scratch. And my front bumper… well, the insurance will cover that, and in the meantime the car is still driveable. It could have been much worse, and I came away feeling more grateful than shaken.

The wind went down while we were at church on Christmas eve. When we came out it felt almost warm in contrast to the -30 Celsius wind chill we have been enduring for a couple of weeks. We stopped on the way home to walk a friend’s little dog that we are looking after while her people are away. It was so lovely out that after we got back from the first walk, the dog insisted on going out a second time.

When we arrived home, daughter #2 and I climbed through the snowbank up onto the dike to look at the river. Along the top of the dike there is still a well-worn path, but the snow on the slope going down towards the river bank was undisturbed. We just stood there and enjoyed being outside without suffering immediate frostbite, and then my daughter turned to me with an impish smile.

“Want to make a snow angel?”

“YES!” (I was, I confess, actually thinking to myself, “I really want to make a snow angel…”)

snow angel 5
The photo is dark because a) it was dark, and b) if you are a 52 year old woman making snow angels in a public park, it is probably better that way!

So we did. And it was great. Doubly great, because it was one more activity that I couldn’t have engaged in with my pre-surgery hip.

And then my daughter stomped MERRY X-MAS in the snow along the riverbank in ten-foot high letters. Probably big enough to be seen from across the river.

For sure big enough to be seen by the angels from their vantage point in the heavens.

snow angel 2


The theme of today’s Daily Prompt is “Texture.”

Freezing 4Back in mid-November, when the river was just beginning to freeze along the edges, I stumbled upon a fascinating textural effect along the shoreline. There must have been a wind blowing as the clay along the river’s edge was freezing, because frozen into the ground were distinct ridges capturing in solid form the ephemeral texture of the water lapping against the muddy shore. I was lucky to catch this sight– the conditions must have been just right to create the effect. A day or two earlier the ground was still malleable. A few days later the frozen ripples were hidden by a blanket of snow.

When that snow melts in the spring it will raise the river and saturated the shore, so this particular texture will no longer be present on this surface. The surface itself will be submerged, hidden by real ripples of surging water.

freezing 2Even if I walked the same path every day, the magic of nature is that it continually offers up new gifts. Some of those gifts, like my rippling water frozen both in temperature and time, are ephemeral. If we don’t stop to notice– to accept the gift– we may not be offered a second chance.

I go walking: to work and back

Since my hip healed and my leave ended, I’ve been back at work for five weeks. No more leisurely strolls along the riverbank every morning after breakfast. No more quiet weekday afternoons to sit and write. It didn’t take long to slide back into the vortex of Being Too Busy.

As I expected. November and December are always busy months at my work. They are busy months at home too, with holiday preparations and school and extracurricular commitments. And now that the snow has arrived, it seems to take twice as long to go anywhere. (Put on boots, put on coat, put on mitts, brush snow off windshield, get stuck in traffic behind the over-cautious winter drivers, get stuck in the snow…)

But I’m still managing to walk nearly every day. It helps that the bus ride to work is sandwiched in between two ten-minute hikes. To get from home to the bus I traverse an expansive strip mall parking lot. It’s not a bad walk, so long as the wind is not blowing from the west. Even that is bearable thanks to my toasty new dollar-store earmuffs. There aren’t many cars in the lot in the morning– well, with the exception of last Friday, when the Black Friday shoppers were pushing their overflowing carts out of Toys ‘R Us and past the lineup at Future Shop before 8:00 am.

This is a "yak track." It's like strapping chains to the soles of your feet. Big traction!
This is a “yak track.” It’s like strapping chains to the soles of your feet. Big traction!

The sea of concrete has now been replaced with an ocean of ice and packed snow, so I have invested in a pair of “yak-tracks” in recognition of my difficulty staying upright on slippery surfaces. I really do not want to risk a fall on my new hip joint!

The trip downtown is one quick express bus, and then I set out on the second leg of my morning walk. This one zigzags around several blocks of hotels and office buildings. I have been in the habit of taking a shortcut through a downtown shopping mall, but lately I have taken the outdoor route, mainly because walking indoors on a tiled floor wearing chains on your feet is actually more treacherous than walking on ice, and it’s too much of a hassle to be pulling the yak-tracks on and off. Instead, I take outdoor shortcuts down lanes and between buildings. Here there is evidence that, while these routes are fine for rush hour, I would probably want to avoid some of them late at night. I can’t even begin to speculate on the story behind the abandoned pair of Y-fronts in one back lane. Much easier to imagine the story behind the sheltered corner littered with empties from some form of cheap liquor.

For the days when the temperature dips to the “unexposed skin will freeze in minutes” zone– guaranteed to happen at some point in a Winnipeg winter — I have the option of making the trek from bus stop to office though a comprehensive system of skywalks that link up downtown.

The skywalks have been my saving grace when it comes to keeping up some semblance of a walking routine. On the days when I can muster a proper lunch break, I can leave my desk and walk, indoors, far enough to feel as though I have had some actual exercise. I’m not alone on these walks — no contemplative riverbank scenes here. Here it is a river of people– other walkers-for-the-sake-of-walking like me, mixed with walkers who are purposefully en route to something. A meeting. An appointment. A lunch date. It’s not what you’d call peaceful, but the people-watching opportunities offer another form of contemplation.

At this time of year it is dusk by the time I leave the office. The dimming light softens the hard edges of stone and concrete, and the people clustered at the bus stop look weary and impatient to get home. By the time I get off the bus it is dark. If I have an evening commitment to get to, I stride back across the parking lot, which now involves weaving strategically through row upon row of parked cars. But if I’m not in a hurry, I take the long way around, down the street to the far end of the dike. There is just enough light from the streetlights on the bridge to illuminate the frozen surface of the river, framed by the skeleton-trees along the banks.

Sometimes I just stand on the dike and breath in the cold air, the view, and the peace I find in walking by the river–even when my life takes me walking in other directions.

I go walking: in the snow

riverscape 2It’s warm today by Winnipeg winter standards– the overcast sky holds in the earth’s warmth, helping the temperature to hover just below the freezing point. It makes for sloppy roads, but it is perfect for a walk, and warm enough to take off my mitts and take some pictures.

The river is frozen now. Almost. If you look closely you can see dark patches that signify an area where the water is still peeking through a thin layer of ice. The river is most dangerous in times of transition– in the early spring when the ice is breaking up, and in the early winter when it is still not fully frozen. But even in the dead of winter there can be treacherous open spots, especially near bridges and outflow pipes.

Note the dark patch. Not a good place for a walk.
Note the dark patch. Not a good place for a walk.

My cousin fell through just such a patch of thin ice one winter when he was a teenager, taking a short cut across a river to go visit our grandparents. Thankfully the friend he was with was able to pull him out and help him up the bank. By the time Grannie met him at her kitchen door he could barely walk because his pants had frozen solid.

I make my way along my familiar southward trail , observing the way the snow hides some things and highlights others.  I’m pleased to see there is a well-trampled path. I don’t encounter any cyclists now, but the regular walkers are undeterred by the arrival of wintery weather.  Rabbit tracks zigzag around the trees. I watch for deer, but it’s too early in the day. I would be more apt to encounter them at dusk.

Even more beautiful highlighted by a dusting of snow.
Even more beautiful highlighted by a dusting of snow.

The fallen tree that I wrote about in early October now lies adorned with a layer of white lacework that brings out the complexity of its structure. Everything that was lush and green a few months back is now either grey and angular, or hidden beneath a blanket of white.

As my boots crunch against the packed snow, I think about how grateful I am that the hours of hip-therapy walking I did to recover from surgery happened in the summer. I love walking in the snow, but it’s more difficult than walking on grass or pavement. Where it is packed down it is slippery, and where it is still fresh my feet sink and twist. At the same time I celebrate the fact that I can go walking in the snow. This time last year I was not walking anywhere but to and from the bus stop, and that was slow and painful and aided by a cane.

No one home to shovel the front step.
No one home to shovel the front step.

High in a tree, something catches my eye. A tiny birdhouse sits, abandoned for the season no doubt, while its inhabitants spend the winter months in more temperate conditions further south. The roof of the house is covered with snow, and there is a tiny mound of snow in front of the entryway.

It strikes me that I have no desire to fly south for the winter. No interest in tropical vacations or white sandy beaches. In spite of the cold, the ice, the inconvenience of snow covered cars and winter boots, I prefer to stay put in this wintery city. Even if it is more effort, I prefer to walk in the snow.