Can’t seem to get rid of the snow. Not when you have a storm every single week. Because just when you think that maybe some of that week-old frozen ice of a snow pile is ever so slightly starting to melt, this happens:
And the very next morning after a storm, more of this:
But I have to say, when I walked the girls to school this morning with the sun shining so brightly that I had my sunglasses on because the sun reflecting off the snow was almost blinding, you couldn’t help but remark how beautiful it was, particularly since it was a balmy 35 degrees. I heard similar chatter all around me as parents walked their kids to school. “Hey, it’s not so bad out, it’s kinda warm!” Apparently, 40 is the new 60.
The girls are re-reading the Little House on the Prairie books and I was reminded of how much I loved “The Long Winter” in particular when I was a kid. Made me want to go grab it off the bookshelf and read it again, partly because we’ve become such a society of complainers and wimps. Let me read about real hardships! Not that I’m not happy I live in this century with modern comforts and all, but I am rather fascinated by how people lived and survived without all the things that we take for granted today.
I remember meeting a handful of various people from my travels around the country when I was young who did choose to “drop out” and live out in nature without the comforts of things like running water, heat or electricity. They were essentially squatting in the woods, building temporary shelters which often consisted of a raised wooden platform and a network of tarps to shield against rain and wind. Survivalists, hippies, I don’t know what you would call them if you had to put a label on them at all, but it was an eye-opener for this city-raised kid. I’ve camped out in much the same fashion, but only for weeks at a time, not months like some of the people I’ve met. On a few occasions I would spend a few days with them in their make-shift homes, strangers really, whom I would just meet rather randomly, but I guess we trusted our guts and instincts enough to know when a situation felt safe. Not once in my years of travel did I ever find myself in any kind of situation that was less than safe.
Were my friends and I just lucky? Did we have a guardian angel watching over us during our travels? I have no idea, but that trust we put in the world enabled us to cross paths with people I would not have normally met had I stayed in my little bubble in the city. Sometimes I think about some of those people and wonder what they’re doing now. Like this girl I met somewhere in Massachusetts who lived in the woods 6 months out of the year in a shelter made of scrap lumber and tarps – kind of like a treehouse, but on the ground. She had a futon on the side of shack that was protected under tarps, but she often slept on the other side under stars when the skies were clear. Her belongings were minimal – some books, a few change of clothes, dishware enough to cook and eat from, a notebook and some pencils, all neatly stacked on the side of her little dwelling next to a tree. When she needed more supplies she would run into town on a bicycle, picking up only what she needed for a week or two. And this is how we met. It’s funny, but I never questioned why she wanted to live this way, so isolated from everybody and everything. When I was with her for those few days, I just accepted it as what it was.
I don’t remember her name, or the names of most of the other people I briefly met crossing paths. But on certain days like this snowy one, I think about how we traveled and learned from people like the girl who lived in the woods, that you don’t really need all this stuff to live a happy life. Isn’t this true? The snow reminds me that at times I feel like I live in a snowglobe, all insulated and small. Those encounters were like blips in my life from a past that I sometimes wonder was really mine, and I may not be the same person as I was years ago, but I keep those life lessons learned through travels tucked away deep inside and I know that it informs the way I live my life now.