Archive:  Year 3 - December 11th, 2008 "Wonderland"

I fell in love with Winter again today.  Finally.  I knew I would eventually - I do every year – but since I’ve lived on the river my relationship with Winter has grown more Shakespearean in it’s Ado.    

Many of the people I know live in the Midwest and are familiar with the hard winters here; and they have a similar feeling about the season that I do.  First, we generally recall the most negative aspects of it – stinging fingers, cumbersome layers, faulty cars, short cold days, endless inconvenience.  

Commiserate about Winter too long, however, and someone is bound to cough out some variety of optimism - optimism that is found in mornings like this one. 

I’ve been fortunate in the past few days to have a leisurely morning schedule, and I’ve been sleeping fairly late and then taking Gracie for a long walk before I try to focus or communicate.

It is one of the few times that I am fully IN Winter.  Not simply baring down against it, shuffling from point A to point B dreading the next step and wishing it was different.  Today, bundled, (to the point of the ridiculous) I wanted to be outside.  It was cold, 12 degrees this morning – but beautiful and bright.  When it has been this cold for this long, the snow absolutely glistens.  There is no slush or ice patches – all the snow is powdery white and squeaky where it’s been padded down.  

The river is frozen over from bank to bank, with only an infrequent, stubborn square of open water. Several coyote tracks, and those of other small vermin scatter the top of the snow – some even making the trek from shore to island in what appeared to be an un-traumatic crossing.

Gracie drags her face, plow-like through the snowdrifts, gobbling down what she can and letting the rest float down her back.  Just as stupid and happy as she is in July.

With a cautious knock on  wood, I have to say there is definite improvements to entering this Winter than the last two.  The furnace keeps the interior comfortable and consistently warm, and the added insulation has made a noticeable difference in every room.  Last night, the temperature dropped to zero and I slept ABOVE the covers.  For some perspective, my first winter aboard, my blankets froze to the wall... Yay!

For all my self-congratulation, however, I have already had my ass saved by my neighbors… twice.

I went out of town last weekend and fretted over my usual litany of worst case scenarios that could happen in my absence:  fire, ice, leak, theft...  Then, the day before I left, one of them actually became viable when my front bubbler burned out.

The bubblers are responsible for moving the water in the slip around my hull, keeping it unfrozen – and more importantly – uncrushed.  With one of the two still working properly, and with less-than-traumatic temperatures expected, I left with only mild anxiety.  As got ready to go, I asked Captain D if he would keep an eye on things for me – his confirmation that he would put me immediately at ease.

A little dock-side investigation revealed that the bubbler was not burned out, but choked up on a washcloth.  It turns out that one of the deck-shammy’s I use to scrub the decks in the summer had fallen in the water, gotten sucked up in the bubbler’s propeller and was causing it to stall and overheat.  All was easily solved, and as I write this, she is churning away – right as rain.

The water is flowing reliably to all my faucets, and the boat feels warm and cozy.  The scenery when I wake up in the morning is breathtaking and the season has only brought out the best in people… for now.

I’m under no delusions about what is most certainly ahead.  But for now I can say loudly, with confidence - while standing in the middle of it – I love Winter!  I don’t mind being the squeaky voice in the corner that reminds a grumbling room full of Minnesotans of the wonderful musicality of deep ice cracking; or how you can instantly feel warm when you’re playing… 

I’ll take the stinging fingers and stalled battery – it really is worth it.  

So far.

Next Post: January 2nd, 2009 "Oh, Nine!"

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