The Big Snow

February 1st, 2016….

A few days prior to this, we were experiencing a nice reprieve from the blistering cold (not much snow yet).   We were working on outdoor projects and hardly even needed a jacket.  I asked my husband, who grew up in snow country, if he thought we might be done with winter, finally!  He retorted without a moment’s hesitation that we probably hadn’t seen the last, or worst, of it yet.  I really didn’t believe this.  Spring was in the air, buds were even appearing on the lilac bushes and I had seen a few Robins, clearly the first signs of spring.  February 1st proved him right though.

The next morning, I learned of the big snowfall via a text from a daughter, living 45 miles away in a similar high altitude with the same record snowfall in her area.  She told me they had called a snow day so she, as a teacher, and all the kids got a free day off from school!  She also said all roads leading into her town were shut down.  This was big news.  It takes a lot of snow to bring things to a screeching halt like this.  And there was a LOT of snow.

I got out of bed and went and looked outside, towards the front of the house where the streetlight revealed just how big!  I was shocked at the thick blanket of snow hiding large articles in our yard.  Many reported not even being able to see small cars in their yards.  Our picnic table, out back, was completely covered as were so many other things.  It was, well, exhilarating to wake up to such a transformation overnight!

Looking out my kitchen window to a scene lit by the streetlight.

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The first photos I took were partly shrouded by the predawn darkness.  A streetlight, in  front of the house, was the only means of revealing this wondrous site.

 

An inner knowing told me this was not going to be an ordinary day.  Something sleeping within me was awakening and alert to events that were coming but still unknown to me. I spent a lot of time snapping photos and reveling in this miracle.  I found myself being “put back” into the right order of things, no longer the one in charge of every aspect of my life.  I was the observer and nothing more.  It made me feel giddy.

After the sun came up, my husband dressed for the cold and went out and began shoveling pathways around our acreage to get around to the places necessary to get to.

 

He claims he shoveled 400′ of pathways and seemed somewhat resentful that I did not help in this chore.  I let it slide off and remained transfixed in my magical bubble of this winter wonderland consciously deciding nothing would intrude on my happiness.  I was in an entirely different place than he was and exhilarated to slip into this transcendent state of being.  I was busy with other important things like being exceedingly happy, excited and beguiled.  I felt like baking and began filling our home with smells, the scent of hot bread in the oven and warm teas.  I even made myself a cup of hot, peppermint cocoa that is only on my shelf for the grandkids (usually).  I never touch the stuff due to my intolerance for sugar but today was different, and found me doing things out of the ordinary.  I found “It’s a Marshmallow World in the Winter” on You Tube and played it and other wintry songs, until all that was left were Christmas tunes and this was not about Christmas.

Our day went on in this manner.  Chatting with friends on Facebook who were experiencing similar things on this beautiful first day of February.  Their stories were also filled with awe and wonder.  I felt exceptionally creative and used my newly painted chalkboard for the first time!  I was waiting for it to “cure” before writing on it and wasn’t sure it would even “work”.  I wanted to make some kind of statement about this magical day that was inspiring me to go to work creating the event in chalk, colored chalk no less, as my first artwork on my newly made chalkboard.

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I regret very much that I did not take a photo of my Feb 1st artwork.  It had big snowflakes and was a wonderful tribute to the day.  My creativity was really overflowing and I was very caught up in this sphere of magical energy spilling out in so many forms.

 A Favorite Picture

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More photos of the day….

This is a natural arbor formed by two trees we usually drive under

to enter our parking area:

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The day wore on in this manner and then the tractors began arriving…

IMG_1044Living in a farming community has its advantages, as I was to soon learn.

Being a “city girl” I missed the amazing bike trails and almost daily events going on in my favorite city, St George, just 36 miles away and always wished for the day we could return there to live.  This has been my constant rhetoric, pleading with my husband (the country boy) to return to the city I loved.  I never really allowed myself to bond with the beautiful country we now call home.  The people were all kind, really great people to know and live among; the summers were much more appealing than the triple digits of St George and even the trips to St George were inspiring, driving through the forested mountains to reach it.  I just wanted to “go home”, back to the place where my roots began, my mother’s home town.

As the bubble began wearing thin and the stark reality of the state of things began interfering with my happiness and glee in this winter wonderland, I could see there was going to take some real labor to get us to even become mobile again.  Our vehicles were locked in.  At first I didn’t even care.  I had no place to go, no place other than this beautiful, magical area I wanted to be in for the moment.  But, as all good things wind down, I began to realize we would have to leave at some point and matters of reality slowly interrupted my sense of living in a wonderland forever.

At first a man we have become friends with, who helps us quite often, arrived in his big green farm tractor.  He shoveled our driveway out so we could at least get our main vehicle out.  When questioning him about all this, he admitted he got up at 4:00 am and when seeing the situation got his tractor going and had been out doing this all morning.  It was about 11:00 when he showed up at our place.  I brought him out a big mug of steaming hot tea and our gratitude could not be rehearsed in a mere cup of tea but that was all we had to offer as he would not take any monetary or even trade for his work.  We exchanged a brief conversation and he had to be off to help others in the same situation.

“What joy to see people helping one another.”

My husband, who has a small (broken down) Kubota Tractor felt perplexed that he too could not be out and about, helping others in need..as he used to do in his home town.  We were totally dependent upon the goodwill of someone coming to our rescue now.

Harv got in our old farm truck and began bouncing over drifts of snow, trying to break them down so that the rest of our driveway could be driven over and to free the rest of our vehicles from their snowy prison.  As luck would have it, at one point he slid into a tall water hydrant (faucet) and found the truck “high centered” right on top of the faucet!  He had crawled under the truck to see what damage may have been done and clearly the faucet was bent and probably broken and it looked like even some parts to the underside of the truck might have been tangled up in the faucet.  It didn’t look good.  As we were wondering how he could even untangle the truck from the faucet another friend passed by on another huge farm tractor.  Harv waved him down and he came and plowed out the other sections of driveways we have.  He lifted the truck up and over the faucet with his mighty tractor then got down on hands and knees in two feet of snow to help Harv dig out the now visibly broken pipe, spurting water.  He spent a good 45 minutes or more helping Harv find the main water shut off valve, buried deep in the snow then worked on digging up the 4′ faucet and capping off the pipe.  He had been up since 7:30 and had not eaten all day.  I fixed him something to eat, that he didn’t want, as he and Harv were working and set it on the seat of his tractor so he could eat it before having to leave to go help someone feed cattle before it got dark, which was quickly approaching.

The real magic of the day

was my finally falling in love with this little farm town and the good people living here. My heart was so full I felt like it could burst with love and gratitude.  I realized what a very special place this little hamlet is, nestled on all sides by beautiful forests and farmland.  Something happened to me on this wonderful first day of February.  I decided to stay and “bloom where I was planted”.  Someday, hopefully, I will return to the place of my ancestors.  I still must go back, there are so many memories deep in my heart and soul and missing too many of the old folk who have moved on from there.  I miss it very much.  I miss my adult children, some of whom live there with my precious grandchildren.  I miss the cousins I was just starting to bond and connect with once again.  I miss my family as I see the people in this small farm town living and doing things with their families who live here also.

But, in the meantime….

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I will strive to be happy wherever I am and whatever the circumstances.  The events that transpired on this wondrous day on the very first day of the month of love taught me some new lessons I hope I never forget.  My heart was filled to overflowing both from the magical wonder of nature’s beauty as well as the goodness of our fellowmen.  That is a good feeling to carry around.

A post note:IMG_1084I couldn’t let our truckload of snow go to waste and came up with the idea of taking it down to “Sunny St George” and sharing it with my grand-kids living there, one of whom has never seen snow in his young life.  I waited about three days before going down, hoping (ridiculously) that the snow would not melt from the truck before I had a chance to go down…it was like a walk in freezer the whole week and I should not have worried about the snow melting before I had a chance to deliver it.

Before we “dropped it off” in my daughter’s front yard, we stopped to eat at a restaurant and my husband nudged me and pointed to some other diners who had left and were out in the parking lot, taking a little nibble of the snow in our truck!  How funny to have shared it in ways not even intended!

Writing Prompt: Day 16 – Lost and Found

Writing Badge

Soul Retrieval

I was working as the head cook at a health-resort-type place where people came for three weeks to drop bad habits and learn better ways of taking care of themselves.  One of the guests who was there had made an appointment in town with a therapist who worked with “Soul Retrieval”.  When the other clients staying at the facility heard of her decision to do this, there was a lot of “chatter” and concern.  They even suspected she may be considering suicide.  No one understood what Soul Retrieval meant.  I did.  I had heard of it before and knew it was a way of retrieving parts of ourselves we have lost somewhere along the way.  It is a way of gathering those parts back up.

It’s a funny thing, we don’t even know we have lost parts of ourselves as they silently slip away.  As we travel down life’s highway we seek that which feels right to us.  We are drawn to the things that feel like “us”; whether in a certain style we take on or people we are drawn to.  It is all in the process of “becoming”.

A snake sheds its skin once a year.  It’s the funniest thing to see, the discarded skin a snake leaves behind.  I have never witnessed the actual process of it shedding its skin but have seen different skins they’ve shed.  You even see the eye holes in the skin, it’s like looking at the complete snake almost, it is so perfectly intact and yet the inside substance is gone.  It’s very interesting.

I think we, as humans, do a similar thing as we grow and progress.  Certainly the things that attract us at age 12, 16, 24, 38, 50 and 60 years old are not the same things.  As we are grow and develop ourselves at these various ages, we are shedding the old “skin” and wrapping ourselves in a new cloak of new colors.  We leave the old, outgrown, “outfit” (self) behind.

This is a natural process of progression from infancy to old age.  Parts of us develop and change and, yet, some parts of us remain very much the same…our life’s blueprint doesn’t really change all that much.

Sometimes in the journey propelling us into newness, we accidentally throw the baby out with the bath.  We lose some of our basic self to try to be something we admire that we see in someone else or an ideology, thinking we want to be that and we let a true essence of ourselves slip away.  We lose parts of ourselves and don’t see it happening at the time.

Soul Retrieval Therapists have emerged as people who help us go back and pick up the pieces of ourselves we left behind on our journey.

LOST  AND  FOUND

 A recent experience I had illustrates this so perfectly.

My husband and I had gone back to our old home-site, a cabin we had built together eight years ago then sold.  We still had some things out there we hadn’t moved yet and wanted to retrieve some items we needed for an upcoming Mountain Man Rendezvous.  My husband used to be quite active in these pre-1840 re-enactments of the American Mountain Men.  He hadn’t done one for 13 years and had to go find some of these things from the cabin.  There were 18′ tipi poles, long pine poles that are not easy to transport so were left till we had a reason to come back and get them.  He also had three tents made of heavy, smoke stained canvas to gather up and a mirage of things he sold from the Trade Tent as well as outfits he wore.  It is required in the Primitive Camping Areas to  keep everything very authentic and pre-1840; which is no easy task.

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I was growing tired, sitting in the heat of the day in this sand dune’s region where our cabin was situated and was complaining about not wanting to bring a lot more “stuff” back to our new home and have to store things that weren’t being used.  I didn’t mind getting the mountain man items but he was “dawdling”, as is his style, to mosey along and have little concern about time.  I was very weary and just wanted to go home.

He exclaimed at one point that I needed to come look at a box he found.  I had no interest in any more boxes of “junk” and he had to coax me to come see it.

I finally dragged myself out of the truck and went to see what he had found.  I opened the hardened, stain flaps of the dirty cardboard box and immediately felt parts of my lost self lodging back into me, settling into the places where they once lived.  For there, within that box, were treasured items from my past.  Each item I saw had a strong memory attached to it; the beautiful green-copper Maple Leaf sculpted in the exact replica of a real Maple Leaf I had bought on a family vacation to Vancouver Island, Canada.  Lying next to that was a real Maple Leaf my dear friend, who had recently passed away, had brought home from a trip back east and had laminated for me.

 Patina Copper Leaf

I saw a doll I had made, two Pilgrim Dolls I had bought for Thanksgiving Decorations…the box was a treasure trove of my past.  These were parts of myself adhering back into me. I could actually feel some of the gaps in myself being filled.  I felt like I had come home.  I felt whole again.

This is the best, real-life example I can conjure up of soul retrieval.  I didn’t miss these things, I had forgotten all about them.  Seeing them, in such a startling, surprising way, together in that old, dusty box,  filled me with parts of myself I had lost along the way.  It was a bittersweet reunion.  Sweet to remember who I was back then and to know I am still that same person, sad and bitter because some of the people whose memories were in the box are no longer alive or a part of my life, like my ex-husband who was on the trip with me and my little children, who are now all grown up.

So there, in that dusty, dirty haphazard old shed in that dirty cardboard box that I had balked at even stepping over to look into I found treasures that were parts of  my past, my forgotten self.  The effect was very tangible.

Of all the things that are lost and found,the parts of ourselves we lose then find again are the most precious.  

DAY 3: Five Day Challenge Assignment: “Free Range Kids”

He Mused to Himself

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Sitting on the sofa, by the window…reminiscing.  Somehow the conversation turned to kids today and he comments (as much to himself as to anyone in the room) that as soon as the sun was up, he was dressed and outside and his mother didn’t see him till the sun was going down.  He recollects, how nice that she didn’t have to worry about him getting abducted, molested or some other fear mothers of today possess.  (Nowadays, we rarely let the kids even play in the front yard without supervision.)

THE   STORYTELLER

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I never tire of hearing “The Indian-Way-Of Cooking-a-Chicken” story.  

When he was a lad, he and his pals would get up early and head for the hills.  This was quite a hike out of town.  They made one stealth stop on their way to the mountain, a neighbor’s chicken coop.  

LUNCH

Once they arrived at their chosen location, up in the mountains, the first thing they would do is to dig a fire pit and get a good fire going. They would then kill the chicken by chopping it’s head off and smear the carcass all over with thick mud.  After it was completely covered in this layer of mud, they would put it in the fire pit and cover it in coals and leave it to cook while they went off and played like they were wild Indians up in the mountains.

Upon returning, they would fork the cooked chicken out of the coals and crack the hardened mud off of it.  The feathers and skin would all come off with the mud they were stuck to.  (This was the punch line of this particular story, how easy it was for our first Native Americans to pluck a chicken.)  They’d eat the meat, picking around the gut area.

He is a natural story-teller, weaving lots of intricate details into these tales.  As a listener, you feel you are right there, reliving those experiences with him.  I could see myself whooping and hollering, running wild and free through the hills and forests with that pure freedom only kids with no adult supervision or intervention can experience.

Imagination turned loose.

They weren’t bad boys.  Just good chums up in the hills playing Indian.  I guess if the worst thing they ever did was to steal a chicken or two in the follies of youth, they will still pass through those pearly gates.

The days of his youth are not far away.  They live on, in his stories and in him, embedded into the very marrow of bone and tissue that make him who he is.  They live because he lives.

A living testament to the makings of free-range child, deep-rooted into this sure and steady man.

Lost in a Memory

I captured this photo of Mom looking out the window at her party going on outdoors. This was a rare moment when she was alone (her favorite company) and able to watch the people from a distance, in a safe, comfortable way. This was on her 94th Birthday. She had just moved into the home she was born and raised in, her dream for many years. So many came to see her and it was such a special day. Of all days, though, I could barely get her out of bed before people started arriving! I couldn’t get her hair fixed, make-up on (which I did every day whether it was a big day or not) or even get her out of her nightgown at first. I was so dismayed. But it all worked out okay and, eventually, we got her into some clothes. She passed away six months later.

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“Yellow, Wild Roses”

This is a true, short story:

Years ago, when my kids were all young, living in Panaca, NV; we were building a new house on a lot we had recently purchased in the middle of town.

We bought a very small 8 X 40′ trailer we hauled to the building site and lived in that while we were building.  With a family of five children crammed within, we were literally living on top of one another, like sardines in a can.  We did build an additional bedroom onto the trailer for the kids to sleep in.  We pretty much threw it up just to suffice our short stint till the new house was finished.  In the winter, ice formed on the inside around the door and window.  Sounds pretty dismal but looking over at the beautiful, new home going up made it all very bearable.

Everyone pitched in and helped on the building project, by the way.  I have photos of even my two sons up on the steep pitched roof helping their dad shingle it.  My ex-husband had a saying, “Small houses build character.”  That must be true because each of the kids coming out of this union are solid adults, true and capable. This is a great story in and of itself but today I am narrowing this broad story down to a particular moment in time, focusing on an incident that happened in this tiny trailer and with one son in particular, Ryan, our eldest at nine years old.

I was fixing dinner, the  house was in a shambles (as usual) and hot in the middle of summer with the screen door to keep the flies out and help the air circulate.  I was fixing supper over the small stove in the cramped kitchen area.  Ryan came through the screen door and I instantly began scolding him for not hurrying up and shutting the door behind him as he was letting the flies in.

Busy with fixing a meal, I didn’t notice his hands were clasped behind his back.  After he came inside and I quit scolding him, he pulled what he had been concealing behind his back, a huge bouquet of wild, yellow roses that grew profusely in the area.  I was so taken aback at this surprise he offered me and feeling very guilty for getting after him.

As I stood there, in the middle of dinner preparations, feeling very sorry for being so hasty to chastise him for “dawdling”, he went on to tell me in a meek little voice that he had picked all the thorns off of the roses.  What a mixture of emotions were swimming around in my head and heart.  Mostly, an overpowering feeling of love and gratefulness for this precious little boy along with feelings of anger at myself for ruining his big surprise.

This is one of those bittersweet memories, a mother stores her whole life in her memory bank, pulling it up either at will or having it flash across the screen at random times.  My “boy” is now 39 years old.  Rather shy and sensitive by nature still.  Having been through the “Hard Knocks of Life University” himself by now and much too old for me to take upon my lap and cuddle and assure him all is right in the world with a kiss and a hug.  How I miss those simple times, those easy fixes.

I hope I did something, somewhere along the road of parenting, that he can pull from his memory bank, to set him back on course when he feels life weighing down upon, a childhood memory to help get him through the hard spots.  He has grown into a good person, a responsible adult who holds down a steady job and his word is his bond. But, oh, how I love and miss that little boy of long ago, standing at my doorway with a beautiful bouquet of yellow, thornless, wild roses for his mother.

This is a story about love.  The purest kind.  When we give everything we have to give.  One of the greatest gifts Ryan gave me that day was to overlook my brash first reaction and wait patiently for me to calm down then pull his surprise out and offer it in his sweet, childish way, even explaining he had picked all the thorns off first.  I’d say, this is one of my most treasured gifts.

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Quote by Tasha Tudor from the book ” The Private World of Tasha Tudor” :

” When I’m working in the barn or house I often think of all the errors I’ve made in my life.  But then I quickly put that behind me and think of water lilies.  They will always eradicate unpleasant thoughts.  Or goslings are equally comforting in their own way.”     “…..Oh, it’s very soothing.”