Monday, February 08, 2010

They're Only Words, And Words Are All I Have, To Take Your Heart Away

So, yeah, I'm the witch of this little bit of land inside the Potomac watershed, with a bunch of oaks, and maples, and birches, and some newly-planted magnolias. Me. Sorry, bit of Earth, that's what you got in the cosmic lottery. I'm not as strong as the 30-something Army officer across the street, to the North, but I'm a lot more Earth-sensitive than the Ugly Neighbors to the South. And, at any rate, you're stuck with me

And in the midst of a storm system that, by best estimates, is the sort of storm system that hits once every 700 or so years, I'm telling myself that I'm doing pretty well. I stocked up before the storm and, truth be told, for years I've been buying either a can of something on sale or a container of bottled water at least twice a month when I go to the grocery store, so I'm not going to starve for a long time, and I bought stuff like bread, eggs, etc. just ahead of this storm. So it's going to be March before I'm going hungry, although I may run out of alcohol (Goddess forfend) by the end of this month, or so. And I've long since installed new sump pumps, a new furnace, a new generator, and new insulation in this little cottage. I have two comforters on my bed, a drawer full of warm socks, and cashmere shawls out my toukas. I'm figuring that I've got internet, heat, electricity, and hutzpah to last forever, so, you know, Winter, do your best. I've even got firewood on the back porch.

The Big Storm of My Life hits and I'm out on the porch communing with the fox and the spirits of this place and the Devas of this storm and I'm sheltering in place, watching Netflix, making sweaters for G/Son, finally reading Little Big, and I'm cool. I was born, in large part, to commune with nature and that's what I do for a good 18 hours.

Finally, day dawns, it's sunny and cold, the storm is over, and I strap on my boots, wrap a Hermes shawl over my head, don my Chanel sunglasses, put on my warm coat with the black velvet collar, and I head out back to bang the snow off of my two new magnolia trees, stopping on the way to knock snow off of my euonymous bush which is hung w/ suet feeders and peanut feeders and all kinds of bird-seed dispensers. I wade through snow up to my sweet, round ass, climb the hill, use my iPhone (my iPhone! I'm so modern it hurts!) to snap pictures, use my broom (Babe! Just this once! Just this one time you can't fly me? Srsly? Cuz it would just be v cool. No? OK. But I'm just saying, "If not now, when?" Just this once? No? OK. No biggie.) to knock snow off the trees, and I head back to the warm inside of my neat little cottage and a hot mug of lapsang souchong.

On the way, I fall down.

Falling scares me; I'm an old woman with a bum ankle full of screws, plates, titanium. Falling on this much snow is fun; it's soft. Getting back up, that's not so easy. It just squishes everywhere that I try to push down. I can't, and this is often the story of my life, gain purchase.

I ground. I breathe. I check that I do, still, have the cell phone in my pocket.

I refuse to get scared. Frostbite? I laugh at frostbite, even as it IS lapping at my more sensitive parts. (No, I'm NOT going to the hospital w/o underpants, which, it just happens, I did not bother to put on this morning. I'm my grandmother's granddaughter and I'm just not. Why do you ask?)

I call for help to every great-great-dwelled-inside-a-cold-cave grandmother that I have, especially the ones who lived through the ice age just so that they could send their mitochondria all the way down to me, me, this silly old woman floundering around in three feet of snow in her back yard and hoping that she won't be a bad story on the evening news. Who am I kidding? I'm just hoping that I die in the snow before Son gets to yell at me; he's SO not going to be amused. I can just hear me telling him, "Well, I wanted to knock snow off the trees. . . ." I have to get up and get inside so that this does not happen. (Line from a LeGuin short story: The Ancestors: "Oh, it's that one. She's in trouble again." Yes, damn it, help me up!) I crawl a few yards through 3 feet of snow (easy for you to read) to my back deck, where I can grab a post and become, again, upright. I walk carefully back along the Eastern side of the house, up the icy steps, back into my bedroom, under my covers.

I get into a warm bath and I do chastise myself. "You could have BROKEN your ankle again. Or your leg! You oughtn't have done that. You need to learn your own limits. You're not as young as you used to be. Crazy old woman; you're lucky you didn't have to call for help, which couldn't have gotten here, in this weather, anyhow! Don't do that again. I mean it."

So last night I did the best magic that I know to raise some guys to come dig out my walk, car, back stoop, etc. At 2:00 this afternoon, after the sun had had time to work on the snow and ice, I went out and shoveled a path from my steps to the street. (Goddess to Hec: " Ho'kay, I sent you someone to clear your walk. You didn't say who. What else you want? You ask too much, you know that?") The sky was blue, the air was clear, I felt good. I shoveled, I paused to let my heart rate get down, I shoveled, paused, admired the clear sky, admired my progress from steps to street, shoveled, anticipated the sweet ache that I'd feel in my shoulders this evening in bed, shoveled, breathed in cold fresh air, looked at the blue sky, shoveled: you get the idea. A couple of neighbors walked by. I called "hullo" to them. One neighbor said, "Are you doing ok? You need anything?" and I said, "Yes, I'm fine; how 'bout you all?"

I came back inside and, for no reason that I can imagine other than that the Mother knows that I appreciate, above all, her sense of humor, not an hour later 4 guys in a truck showed up asking if I needed anything shoveled. I paid them to dig out my car and to dig out the back deck so that I could open that snowed-in door and feed the birds.

So I'm editing legal pleadings on line and I'm feeling rather Mistress of the Universe, myself, if I do so say so, and then some v nice neighbors stopped by to say they were on their way to the supermarket and did I need anything? I was happy to say that I didn't, and we chatted about the upcoming even-more-snow and I mentioned that I have the generator, so, if the power does go out, please feel free to come by and charge up cell phones or laptops or whatever, and then my v nice neighbor said, "I saw you out this afternoon, struggling to shovel out your walk."


Just, damn.

I didn't think that I was "struggling." I was feeling pretty damn good about getting out there in this once-in-a-lifetime storm and clearing a way to the street, just after having had an epic struggle to save some magnolias, meanwhile knitting a sweater, editing a legal pleading, and cooking some soup.

I don't know. Maybe I'm nuts. Maybe I should be living in a nice condo for old people. I know the nice neighbors didn't mean anything, except to be nice, but I didn't think that I looked as if I were struggling. I didn't. I thought that I looked strong and vital and alive and like a tough old survivor. I did. That's how I felt and that's how I assumed that I looked.

I'm going to go on being the witch of this place. Struggling isn't the worst thing in the world. Giving up on the struggle: that's bad.

I wasn't struggling. I know struggle and that was not struggle. I have struggled, and, when I was struggling, no one knew it, but that wasn't struggling. Just saying.

Apologies: I forget where I found this picture.


Sia said...

Your intrepid female ancestors must be so proud.

Hang in there.


Teacats said...

Strong fierce snow warrior! Glad you are more-than-just-fine-and-dandy .... you raise Energy and Stir-Up-The-Spirits of Winter and Ice! Thanks Be To Herself that you are indeed still with us all!

Jan at Rosemary Cottage (who swept the rainwater-logged driveway and thought of Thanks to Herself)

The Wizardess epi said...

Excellent story...I'm in the same storm, with more to come tomorrow, and I also have a stainless steel ankle. SO unfun. The ankle, that is. I'm enjoying the storm so far.

TOW said...

Falling on this much snow is fun; it's soft. Getting back up, that's not so easy. It just squishes everywhere that I try to push down. I can't, and this is often the story of my life, gain purchase.

Story of my life too. I love your attitude, your brillance, your stubborness and your writing. Glad you're well and ready for the next storm.

Anonymous said...

This New Yorker, who has dealt with her share of snow storms and laborious shoveling across quite a few decades, salutes you for your strength and wisdom.

Aquila ka Hecate said...

Such tender humour - thanks for giving me cause to laugh along with you this morning.
Terri in a Flooded Joburg

greekwitch said...

That was scary! You all alone in the snow, just to clean up your trees from snow! I would have burried myself trying! But a girl got to do what a girl got to do. I love the way you connected and found strenth. Here the weather is much better and yet i managed to come down with a cold. I admire your strenth, stubborness and immune system!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for that. It was just beautiful.

Hope you enjoy Little, Big, too.

Kate said...

"Maybe I should be living in a nice condo for old people."

Fuck that noise.

Anonymous said...

You so rock!


Sarah said...

Take care of yourself Hecate, I come here everyday, (just don't comment much). And I intend to keep coming here everday!

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that you weren't struggling, either. You were taking your time and being smart about shoveling. But to young people who don't look at things the same way, to them you might have looked like it. Interesting that they didn't come over and offer to help you since they thought you were struggling.

Hang in there - you sound like you are doing just fine. Sorry to be sending more snow your way - have to send it somewhere...

Souris Optique said...

"silly old woman floundering around..."

Silly? I think you mean *AWESOME*!

And I bet your neighbors wouldn't stop until they really _were_ struggling to continue. Reflects more on your wisdom than physical ability, methinks.

And now I've gotta track down and read that LeGuin story.:D thanks!

clymela said...

Thank you so much for this story and for recording your indignation over being perceived as struggling.

echidne said...

I'm so very sorry to have suggested that brooming of the trees. But it ended well, did it not?

Anonymous said...

What a fine tale. And I believe you, that you weren't struggling. I know what your accomplishment with the shoveling of snow felt like.

Your neighbors have their filter about what they saw and you have your filter about what you actually did. I'm trusting your filter myself.