As the time quickly approaches for me to make my annual pilgrimage westward for some familial holiday Q.T., I find myself developing a not entirely unexpected, though mild, case of post-traumatic stress. Read on and you’ll understand why. When I was a kid, I used to love winter weather. Now…well, let’s just say I’m “on the fence” and leave it at that…
DATELINE – Day 1. A frozen somewhere far beyond the bounds of civilization.
This is your intrepid reporter coming to you from the frosty wilds of the Inland Northwest. “Where is the Inland Northwest?” you may ask. Well, I’ll tell you: you’ve heard of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest? Go inland and you’re there.
It’s an area that encompasses eastern Washington State, northern Idaho and western Montana. Just call it “the northwest wilderness” and you’d be close enough to the mark.
My first lungful of frigid western air caused a freezing twinge deep in my lungs that brought on a recurring hack I have yet to shake. The cold, dry air has also promoted a profusion of mucus production last seen only during the previous year’s annual summer cold crisis. The Kleenex Company plans to report a sharp upsurge in sales in their next quarterly earnings report. Shareholders plan to applaud.
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DATELINE – Day 2. The frozen wilds.
Attendance at the weekly cottage religious services was called off on account of weather. Instead the bulk of the day was spent in attendance of a compulsory crash course in the lost art of snow shoveling. The class was conducted in a real-world setting with a hands-on teaching approach. The course material covered equipment, precipitation disposal, strategy formulation and problem solving skills. Most of class time was spent in the constant personal prevention of prolific blaspheming, whether under the breath or for all to hear. Results in the attempts to keep holy the Lord’s Day were modest at best.
Class recommendations: warm clothing, Icy Hot muscle relaxant, avoidance of class attendance if at all possible. Course critiques: unpaved circular driveways are the devil.
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DATELINE – Day 3. Surrounded by snow banks.
Upon completion of yesterday’s course, I have been commissioned as a newly minted snow-shoveler in good standing. Course completion resulted in the relief of one of the veteran members of the shoveling team so that she might enjoy the refuge and respite of her sewing room. Many an evil eye was turned upon the warm glow of the amber light issuing from the window of said refuge during the course of the days work. Evil eye usage mostly coincided with the bellowing reports of your intrepid reporter’s spinal erector muscles of the abundant presence of lactic acid in their ranks. Transmission of reports was most clearly heard during laden, upward movements of the torso. Prolonged stay in a local area hospital foreseen as a real possibility.
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DATELINE – Day 4. Up to the neck in snow drifts.
The record snow fall continues for the fourth straight day here in the inland wilds. The brain has taken to dissociating completely from the body once the ever-increasingly familiar shape of a snow shovel appears within the field of vision. It is from a benumbed and semi-somnambulant stupor that the body continues its now all too familiar routine of daily life. It is wondered what life was like before the day started off with breakfast and shoveling? How did the world go round and human life continue to exist before the shoveling? It is a thought much marveled at during the solitary and mind-numbing daily ritual. Other flights of fancy are not uncommon.
A vague recollection of the anticipated arrival of a sainted portly gentleman in crimson attire persists for reasons unknown. Further details to follow upon clarity of recollection. Do not anticipate details before return of intrepid reporter to the land of concrete and chrome.
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DATELINE – Day 5. Amongst the faux evergreen, fearing the outside world.
The birth of the Savior was celebrated in the only way one could imagine: with the shoveling of snow. Overnight snowfall accumulation of 6+ inches resulted in another cancellation of attendance of small town worship services in favor of the sweat-soaked clearing of circular drive and adjoining strategic mailbox and back door access paths. Though a postponement of exterior domicile duties was declared for the opportunity of familial bonding and gift exchange, precipitation homage was paid in due course after a hearty midday repast in the hopes of fueling said endeavors. These hopes were not brought to fruition. Aggravation at the necessary physical labor on this particular day was even expressed by the fearless leader of the merry band. The first signs of a developing case of cabin fever have started to show, as well as fervent hopes that a respite in the weather might result on the following day. All aching muscles have been reported to heartily agree.
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DATELINE – Day 6. Escaped from captivity and back amongst the land of the living.
A brief window in the relentless weather has appeared and we have taken said opportunity to get out while the getting was good. Trips were made to various and sundry retail outlets for the acquiring of further goods to help bolster the sagging holiday spirits. Spirit bolstering achieved with great success after a painful financial jab to a reportedly “free and clear” plastic promissory card. Ensuing ache reported to be located somewhere in the vicinity of constituent’s billfold. Further details on reported medical condition as they develop.
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DATELINE – Day 7. Lost in the tundra.
The return of loathed weather dumps record numbers in vicinity of domicile. Mass of precipitation reported to be denser than any thus far experienced seasonal weather. Reprieve from shoveling offered to intrepid reporter in exchange for the assignment of removal of accumulated precipitation off the roof of ancillary vehicle storage facility. Questions arising as to classification of assignment as “reprieve”.
Ray of hope shines in darkness: reports of warming trend predicted for rest of the day on into the weekend. Praise and thanks for the mercy of the Almighty offered immediately upon confirmation of reports.
* * *
DATELINE – Day 8. Aghast at the developing situation.
Warming trend continues as frozen precipitation is replaced by a messy semi-solid both familiar and reviled by your intrepid reporter. Religious services a go amid piteous attempts by low-hanging storm clouds at liquid deluge. Fervent hunger pains endured during services due to ill-planned morning activities. Bad planning blamed on disruption of usual routine: course of action unknown when frozen precipitation removal device not incorporated or mandatory. Ensuing confusion resulted in foregoing of morning repast. Midday repast consumed with redoubled vigor. Evening repast heavily anticipated: rumors of homemade Italian flatbread unconfirmed at this time.
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DATELINE – Day 9. Complete and total memory loss.
No recollection of activities. Day lost to oblivious haze of household chores. Physical exhaustion and not alcoholic consumption (this time) cited as reason for memory loss. Doubtful if respite (if any were indeed had) would serve to improve ravaged physical condition. Reports of pitiful, plaintive cries by your intrepid reporter for comforting maternal figure would not come as a surprise.
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DATELINE – Day 10. The last straw; camel’s back officially broken.
Nine inches of overnight accumulation has prompted incessant questions about the existence of a Supreme Being. If indeed existent, additional questions arising for Supreme Being as to why the persistent and personal punishment in the form of frozen precipitation. Idle talk of acquirement of gas-powered winter power tool has turned to solid plan of action. Plan of action foiled upon reports of lines of people 40 deep every morning at home improvement mega stores as early as one hour before store opening. Overwhelming despair battled in earnest amid renewed concerns for manual snow removal implements. Shedding of blade re-enforcement support of one removal implement cause for great trepidation. Supplementary or replacement implements not anticipated until the Fourth of July summer sale.
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DATELINE – Day 11. Forced march through hostile terrain.
High winds in the overnight hours resulted in 2 inches of drift accumulation on all freshly shoveled surfaces. Shoveling activities forgone purely for the sake of group mental health and morale. Instead, a two-mile amble “around the block” in the subfreezing temperatures was suggested and implemented. Grudging acknowledgement granted of beauty of landscape and mild relief of encroaching case of cabin fever. Despite consistently adequate weather protection, feelings of weariness toward pervasive cold persist.
* * *
DATELINE – Day 12. One last kick in the pants.
Yet again we have been granted a reprieve from the masochism that is quickly becoming a way of life. We awoke to find yet another storm upon us and our fearless leader had quickly made the decision to not even bother with precipitation removal procedures until noon tomorrow. Impulses to idol worship of fearless leader heavily considered. Yet another snowbound day indoors anticipated.
A true test of sanity forecasted upon the heartbreaking discovery of the loss of satellite television signal. White jacket and rubber room predicted for very near future.
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DATELINE – Day 13. And one to remember us by.
The reprieves are over and I wish the warden would throw the switch all ready. On the eve of my departure from this unforgiving land of eternal pallor, nature has seen fit to kick me while I’m down: 9 inches of overnight accumulation to dispose of. The snow banks are officially over my head and have to be 6 feet if an inch. It is wondered how one is to efficiently dispose of snow by throwing it over one’s head. The task is as unpleasant as can be imagined. Constant wonderings as to who hates me and why come interspersed with ever more frequent trips to my happy place. Serious thoughts entertained of the world as no more than a nightmare and wonder at why one can’t rouse from such a bad dream. It is unknown how much more visitors and residents alike can take. Earnest prayers offered for the safety, endurance and continued well-being of manual winter precipitation removal devices. If they fail, the battle is lost and search parties should be sent out for survivors. Then hibernation will no longer be only a long-sought dream but indeed the safest course of action.
* * *
DATELINE – Day 14. Home sweet home.
Two hours of sleep is the entirety of allocation before predawn sojourn to local air transportation hub. Joy at impending freedom from winter tyranny manifests itself in yet another quality coed chatted up by your intrepid reporter. Fair warning issued to all matriarchs to consider secreting their female offspring in well-secured edifices. Your intrepid reporter is not responsible for excessive demonstrations of his jubilation, whatever form they may take.
Excessive jubilation manifested in persistent unconscious state for 2500 of 3000 mile journey. Cost of additional $15 dollars applied to already exhorbitant fee of hired ground transportation service INTO City as compared to transport OUT of City. Mystery abounds concerning said discrepancy but creeping suspicion of bona fide “racket” smothered under all-encompassing desire to arrive at private and personal domicile.
Sweet sighs of relief upon the discovery of vacated domicile still whole and contiguous. Somnambulant stupor achieved for remainder of waking hours and rudimentary plans formulated for continuation of stupor through to following day. No plans foreseen for near future beyond recliner, quilted blanket, flat screen and the avoidance of anything even close to resembling frozen winter precipitation. Disposal of precipitation is now officially someone else’s problem. Chinese food delivery a distinct and inevitable possibility.
There’s no place like home.