This is my brother. He’s a great guy. But once in a while, he’s an idiot. He doesn’t ever read this, so he won’t know he should be offended. About this, anyway.
Okay, so it’s the first day that’s really after the holidays, and G goes off to work in the studio, and I get to start out my new life in the new year. I sit down with my first hot breakfast in normal life, but the phone rings. Honestly, the eggs are, like, half way to my mouth, and the bacon smells – (I close my eyes) – like bacon.
But I answer the phone, and it’s my brother. Who says to me, “How far are you from the Marina?”
I blink. What kind of an opening gambit is that? Bit I remember there’s that boat place down at the lake. So I tell him, sounding puzzled, “Two miles?” The upshot is this: he and his buddy have just ridden bicycles across the wide, dangerous lake that sits in the bottom of this valley bowl. Miles of lake – between his house and mine.
I immediately remember the story Guy’s grandfather told me about how he and his buddy tried that stunt on ice skates – and how his buddy had hit a hole, slipped through it and was frozen to death under the ice in seconds. That lake is no joke. And just as Mike and Dan, naive little bikers, got safely close to our shore, Mike’s bike chain broke. Which meant that they couldn’t turn around and make the made ride back across. Which may have been divine intervention. Mike later posted video of the two of them, evidently biking across a wild tundra – and posted it on Facebook. To which I added the caveat: Do NOT try this EVER.
“It’s all right,” my brother says to me. ”We were on snow bikes.” Which meant nothing to me until I had driven down to said marina in our tiny truck that would be better on these roads at this time of year if we replaced the tires with blades. I had to collect them, bring them home and call Mike’s wife to come get them. Two huge, freezing men shoved into that tiny cabin with me as I tried to shift gears. But we were safer in the tiny truck for all that extra weight.
These are the very bikes. Brand name: Surly. Yep. Took one look at those bikes and felt much better; I mean really, a bike that can double as a flotation device?
Part of the fun this winter: keeping the water system at the barn alive. Horses have to drink about twenty-two gallons of water a day. Especially important as we have to keep all that chewed-up hay from turning into a cork right in the middle of the equine digestive system. Normally, this is simply a matter of turning on the faucet. And, in the winter, draining it every time we use it so that the pipes don’t freeze. Which we evidently forgot to do one day a coupla weeks ago.
Once there is ice in the pipe, unless you get a warm enough day, you’re cooked. YOU try hauling eighty-eight gallons of water in two-gallon buckets on a day where the high temp is eleven degrees. On top of that, somebody – some four footed person with a two foot long nose – stuck it into the frozen-solid pipe assembly, snapping it right off. Big Trouble in Horseland.
But brilliant Guy to the rescue. He digs up a dead hose and turns it into a whole new system! You see the hose in the shot up there.
Only trouble is, to drain it, we have to use a quick release connection, take the hose off, and let the extra water shoot across the middle of the barn. The quick release has to be unfrozen every single morning – with – a hair dryer – before we can connect up the hose. Still – beats the bucket brigade. YAY!
G, hauling out the holiday recycling. You see that red sun setting back there? That’s the light, filtered through the inversion-poisoned air.
This is the pile of ice I have made, taking a shovel to the horse trough each morning. I have to break the ice, then I lift out the chunks with a hay rake and toss them over the gate onto the snow. We call that: a workout.
See how thick it gets? And the pile grows and grows till you can’t open the gate. And THIS was the metaphor I meant to write about when I took these pictures. Most winters, we go through a period of time when the pile gets about this big. But it only takes one chilly (rather than freezing), sunny day to reduce that literal ton of ice into nothing. Nothing at all. Gone.
That’s a little how I feel today. Like winter has lifted a bit. Like spring actually might come back. Maybe not soon. But still – all this gray that’s been piling up on so many levels – all it takes is a little warmth, good sense and color to put most things right again in a jiff.
A couple of weeks ago, I got up, went out to the car on my way to throw hay for the guys. I actually thought the windshield was wet – it had been raining half-heartedly for about half an hour. But this turned out to be a freezing rain, and the windshield was totally encased in ice.
By the time I got home, the driveway and the street were total ice rinks. My boots had no traction. Neither did my shoes. Going out to get a package from UPS – across the front deck, the stepping stones across the yard – it was insane. I got as far as the little slope the driveway makes to the street – and slid down to the UPS truck like I was surfing.
This snow is actually weeks old. It was so cold, the snow never got to looking old and dirty.
This was just as the weather tried to break – it warmed up to about 33 degrees and the snow started to look strained.
Inside the house is another story. Gray at the windows, but pretty rosy inside. The tree is un-decorated, but still keeps our spirits up, with all it’s tiny bright bits of color.
This is what we see out the windows – most mornings, then again in the evening. Fog is one thing – but this is lake effect moisture mixed with smog.
A better exposure. Like living in London, it was.
A couple of mornings, when the wind got the gumption to blow a bit and the sun broke through at dawn, we looked out our window and saw this lovely rosiness rise on the wooden wall.
I made one of these. I made up about a dozen ponies over the weeks, then tried this guy. Mostly, I am still doing genealogical research and doing a couple of family history books – Mom’s and another. I can’t stick to anything. Just kind of wander from one question to another.
Even so, it’s still beautiful out there. I think the planet is having just as hard a time figuring out what should happen next in the story as I am.