Rob's Blog Archive

April 5, 2015

Into the Spring










My favorite month is February.  There’s always snow here and the temperature can still drop below 0 F.  Since I’ve lived at Silly Lake, there has been only one February that didn’t have any nights with temperatures below zero.  This past February, there were three.  Accompanying winter cold, the days are noticeably longer than at New Year.  Finally, most years, it’s usually when my dogs’ as well as my conditioning peaks.  February is the best of winter.

It’s now April.  Some years, the snow disappears slowly and I can sled, skijor, and ski into April.  Some years, it seems like we go from my standing on a snowpack that lets me look over my six foot fence to bare ground in a day or two.  That’s what happened this year. 

With spring here, I do miss the winter. The lightspeed transition from snow to bare ground exacerbates this, but, with all the things I put off during the winter, I don’t grieve much.  And, of course, I know that there will be another winter.

My missing the winter and anticipating the next one are both exaggerated by another seasonal occurrence, the sale of winter gear.  This year I bought a light arctic jacket, two pairs of ski boots, and a pair of skating poles.   One pair of ski boots had a meager ten percent off---places with lower prices had run out of my size---but everything else had at least a 35% discount.  I had a pair of good runs with the skating boots and poles, but only mediocre runs with the backcountry boots I bought, and the jacket hangs in the closet until it actually is below zero outside.  A normal December should have me testing all of this.   

One ritual of winter I don’t yet have to grieve over is my wood stove.  Actually, in some ways, spring and fall are the times that I enjoy the stove the most.  I don’t have to tend the stove during the day, but usually let it run out.  At night, however, I get a good blaze going.  Most nights will drop below freezing until the beginning of May, still a few weeks off, and I expect to be using my wood stove every night until then.

With the snow gone, all of the items that were buried and missing have reappeared.  This included a couple of good sized snow shovels, a bunch of buckets, and several tools I use for scooping the dog yard.  I’d add that, with the snow gone, the time I need to scoop the dogyard drops by a factor of three and I no longer have to shovel out the four gates---two are ten footers.    There are disadvantages to winter.

Now that spring is here, the other item I can’t put off much longer is a true spring cleaning.  So far, I’ve been nibbling at the work I need to do.  Still, piles of mail have been sorted and a ton of gear has been cleaned and put away.  I’m seeing floor and counter surfaces I haven’t seen for months. 

The one aspect of spring that I do enjoy is looking back at what I’ve done.  I both savor this and, using what I’ve done and learned, start to plan the next season.  It was the end of March, two years ago, that I hooked up Shoshone and Tanner and did a 16 then a 23 mile skijor run, far and away the longest skijor runs I had ever done.  With those two long runs I decided to aim for skijoring the Iditarod Trail. 

This spring, I am again looking to try the Iditarod trail nine months hence.  Two years ago, I could only talk to others and use their experiences to tell me about what I was going to try.  Now, two years later, I have lots of long skijor runs behind me, including eighty miles I was actually on skis while attempting the Iditarod a little over a year ago.  Gear that had seen only a few runs and nights out prior to my leaving Willow now has a lot of mileage and a bunch of nights. 

Most flowers come out in spring and early summer and the resulting seeds hit the ground early summer through fall.  The plants actually start growing the following spring.  For me, the seeds of my past season’s work and things I’ve learned “hit the ground” now and they will germinate next winter.  Like so many other things, I am once again out of phase with the world.   

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