Winter Wonderland (as in, I wonder where all this winter came from)

Got back late yesterday afternoon from the Brookings and points north trip.  There was a mere dusting of snow in Brookings and Sioux Falls on Thursday night, so driving into Vermillion on Friday was a bit of a shocker.

The roads in Verm are always bad in the winter, so it took me a few minutes to figure out why they were really bad–worse than when I left.  And then I started seeing the ubiquitous snow mountains in the middle of the street–the City plows pile it up there and then generally wait until very early the next morning to clear it all away.


When I pulled into the drive I breathed a sigh of thankfulness for my neighbors with snowblowers.  I always think those kind of contraptions are kind of ridiculous until something like this happens, and then I’m incredibly happy they’re so generous with their machines.  Otherwise, I would’ve felt very bad about leaving H with both the dog and six or eight new inches of snow to clear from the drive and sidewalks and car pad.

Now the sun is out, but the wind is up, so it’s nice to be in a fairly sheltered area.  I cleared the sidewalk and paths again this morning of the fresh inch or so we got last night, but with the way the wind is blowing, they won’t stay clear for long.  The squirrels have finally noticed I re-filled the backyard bird feeder, and are socking the seed away as fast as they can while the birds are snuggling in the cover of the evergreens.

At least the house is well insulated–not only in the walls, but outside them as well–most of the foundation is wrapped halfway or more up to the siding with a thick blanket of the white stuff.  If we get much more before a little warm-up, I’m not sure where I’ll put it–I’m already having to heave the snow up and over the railing by the front steps instead of just shoving it off the sides, as it’s piled up on the sides higher than the level of the top step.

I don’t remember a winter (oh, wait–it’s not actually winter yet) where we got so much snow so early.  If we don’t get gradual thaws between now and spring and we get our usual January, February, and early March storms on top of what we have now, those in low-lying areas are going to have to pray for a very slow melt.

All this snow coupled with the spring rains will give us some nice soil moisture, but it’ll also cause hellacious flooding if it all goes at once.

When we get the snows like this, it’s hard not to feel a bit hemmed in.  When I was a kid, my brother and I would tackle each other into the drifts and generally pay no attention to where the grownups shoveled paths except perhaps to tunnel into the high sides to make a fort.

But even though we may wear a few extra layers, adults don’t generally wear full snow-play gear out to start the car or walk to the store, so we stay on the ever-narrowing paths between the walls of snow.  Instead of traipsing across the lawn knee-high in the white stuff, I take the right, then left, then left again path I’ve cleared to get to the sidewalk. The cold, too, tends to make us hunch up and hunker down, pulling our bodies into a smaller and tighter and (hopefully) warmer space.

So today I’m making my indoor space warmer and more expansive-feeling by finishing up a curried pumpkin soup I started last night with the rest of the leeks and kale, and by assembling the ingredients for a marbled pound cake.

H wanted chocolate cake and M wanted vanilla cake, so in the spirit of expansiveness and using the oven to make the house even cozier, I’m going to attempt to give everyone what they want.


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