Back in White

The monochrome of winter once again ~click to enlarge

☐  So far it is the Winter of the Two Inch Snow–sissy weather by northern standards, just enough to put an edge on getting to town for a non-essential meeting or for the extra milk and bread all bodies mysteriously require when it snows; just enough to make getting in the firewood a bit more of an unsurefooted aggravation and a mess inside; and just enough disruption that the chickens fuss for much of the day in protest that their favorite free-ranging spots are obscured by some kind of white stuff. A smarter bird would know to just perform their usual scratch-jump-back dance like they do in the leaves on the south slope above the garden or in the mulch under my window, and find some edible grass tips or seeds.

☐  Well now I know it is not just my imagination that the tap water is way colder now than it was a few months ago. I suppose as it first comes out of the well it’s closer to 50 degrees–about what you’d find in a cave year round. That’s cold enough for bare hands! But after it sits in the pipes between well and house buried below frost line but still close enough to be chilled nicely by months of sub-freezing air temperatures, it goes down from 50. I would have bet on it. I took an old metal meat thermometer I found in high school (been sitting on whatever desk I have had since then) and stuck it under the tap water: 42 degrees. Makes quick work of washing your hands.

☐  Don’t you just hate it when…it’s wintertime and your hair gets all static-y in the dry air and levitates towards the interior ceiling upholstery of the car the whole way to town? Shorter folks and chrome domes, be thankful. Then, adding insult to injury, that same obnoxious static grants me a terrible sparking shock at the wood stove several times a day. The dog carries such a wallop of a charge that every time he comes within three feet of “Belky Bear” (a left-over from the kids early Christmases and now thankfully muted in a closet upstairs til next year) the dang thing begins automatically whining out its squeaky carols–three of them, one after another; it can’t be stopped once it starts. It’s sort of eerie, besides being obnoxious. We might need to call an exorcist–with snow tires and a Subaru.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. lol These little trials of winter add up until we feel quite accomplished once we have made it through to spring. I planted some seeds yesterday partly to reassure myself that spring will come again. (And the parsley has to go to the devil and back 7 times before it germinates. So say the old timers.)