Spring, is it Really You?

It has been a long cold winter. So much so for me that I just accepted that it would stay cold until it wasn’t anymore and tried to forget about it. Then came yesterday. I arrived home after my Thursday evening guitar lesson and realized that it was warm enough to go out without a parka, hat, and gloves. So, for the first time this year I walked The Queen (she just returned from her winter rendezvous in Virginia) with bare ears and hands. It was delightful.

The Queen celebrated by catching a mole and was visibly irritated when I would not let her eat it.

Mole Digging

Unfortunately, the morning walks are not quite ready for bare ears and hands, but soon (it was up to 37 degrees this morning).

Here’s to a warm and hat and gloveless weekend, enjoy!

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Indiana Winter: Cold, Flat, & Windy, Part II

It seems that I’ve been fooled. My first winter in Indiana, 2011-2012, was incredibly mild. Not only was there not one single large snowfall there was not much snow at all. Additionally, the temperature, while cold, was not consistently and continuously bitter. Oh, and I lived in an apartment with a garage. So, I never had to encounter snow directly: no shoveling, no sweeping, no cleaning off the car. All I had to do outside was walk the dog.

The Eel River frozen up to the falls.

The Eel River frozen up to the falls.

Everyone I’ve talked with about the weather (which is nearly everyone) told me not “get used to it.” I am afraid I did.

This winter is different. There have not been any giant snows, but we have had more snow and the temperatures have been way (at least it seems to me) colder. Days and days of temperatures under 20 degrees. Wind. Constant, cold wind with wind chills repeatedly below -10. Oh, and I now have a driveway to shovel, a walk to sweep, and neighborhood streets to try to navigate safely.

I have prided myself on the fact that I can handle cold weather and drive in the snow. I was raised in the mountains! It does snow in the mountains and it does get cold. However, it doesn’t stay this cold for this long, the snow doesn’t hang around for weeks from one storm, and it doesn’t snow this often. And, there is no wind there, at least not constant, extremely cold, and sustained winds.

This has been much more of an adjustment than I am comfortable admitting. It is not in my nature (or raising) to concede weakness or discomfort. Every time I walk out into the piercing cold wind I cringe. I long for some mountain cover. The question – why do I live here crosses my mind. Regularly. If I missed home when it was warm here, I miss home 1000x more now.

Luckily, I had the chance to escape the Midwest winter briefly. I spent part of the last week in Puerto Rico, where it was sunny, warm, and, like Fort Wayne, windy; there the wind blows warm. It was a much needed break even though I worked most of the trip. But that trip taught me a very important lesson. I now know the key to surviving a Midwestern winter. Take a break.

I learned how to use the panorama feature on my phone in PR.

Seasons change and I have access to airplanes. So, my new vacation window is going to be January to March, just in time for a nice break from the Midwestern winter.

Home Ownership Lesson #11

The amount of the subdivision annual assessment is directly proportional to the effort expended to treat the subdivision’s streets. In this instance less is not more.

In the mountains, more specifically the holler, there was no “authority” responsible for treating the roads when it snows or is icy. There are no subdivisions back home. You either live on the mountain or near the river. Flat land is at a premium. Usually, Cousin JW would whip out the four-wheeler with a snow blade and clear off what he could. The road to my family’s house is one-lane between a steep hillside and the creek. When traveling it Daddy’s advice was “ah, go on, just go slow and aim for the ditch line, not the creek. You can only slide so far if you are going slow.” So we went.

Here in Indiana, the flattest place on earth, subdivisions are the rule. So, for the first time I am living in one. When I moved into my soul-less garage with three bedrooms in suburbia I knew that I was responsible for my driveway (and that is another lesson altogether). However, I figured that my annual assessment would cover a scraping and little salt for the streets in the subdivision. It, after all, is around $200. That should cover some salt, right?

Wrong.

Two weeks after the last snow fall we still have a few inches of ice on the primary roads of the subdivision. I have slid to a stop at the turn for my street several times. When passing a vehicle going in the opposite direction cars nearly have to stop to do it safely. Not cool.

Icy Road

At the time I bought the house, I specifically remember thinking that the annual assessment for my little starter neighborhood was very reasonable. Some other neighborhoods with more expensive homes had much higher assessments. Now I realize that the more you pay, the more services you receive. I am not sure how this got by me. This was my first time, cut me some slack. Lesson learned.

I regret that I feel a little bitterness when I drive by the grown-up neighborhoods and see their nice clear and dry streets. Sad. However, I am somewhat comforted by the fact that most other folks I have talked to are dealing with the same thing. It seems that my situation is the rule and not the exception. Of course, that does not stop me from being annoyed and indignant about it.

It looks like until upgrade one day, I will be driving slowly through my neighborhood. As you know, you can only slide so far if you are driving slowly.

Indiana Winter: Cold, Flat, & Windy, Part I

Snow is beautiful. I like it.

Indiana Snow

Sadly, though, snow does not come with sixty degree temperatures, dry roads, and warm winds. At least not in Indiana. The day I returned from my holiday break in Virginia it was eighteen degrees and felt like four degrees with twenty mile per hour winds.

These are not my ideal dog walking conditions.

Twice a day I bundle up in layers, strap on my boots, and walk The Queen. She prefers the field and brush behind the subdivision to the sidewalks. This makes for adventures wading through ankle-deep or more snow and enduring 20 mph winds in an open field. Other than the satisfaction of making the dog happy, the only thing that makes these required walks tolerable is the view. The Queen doesn’t mind regular stops for iPhone photography.

Model Dog

Eyeing some fresh deer tracks.

Walking Shoes

The proper form for mole digging.

The proper form for mole digging.

Wading Through the BrushSunset on the trees

The Queen watching the sunset.

The Queen watching the sunset.

Our evening walks offer lovely sunsets. This one is from behind tall weeds.

Our evening walks offer lovely sunsets. This one is from behind the tall weeds.

The view of the Indiana countryside also pretty. Pretty enough to make long commutes fun and slow. Slow? Yes, because you have to stop and take pictures. Seriously. I am that person pulled over on the shoulder, stopped in the middle of the road, and holding the camera up to the windshield or side window while in motion. I highly recommend it to everyone with a camera or smartphone.

It is pretty.

A snowy sunrise near South Whitley, Indiana.

A snowy sunrise near South Whitley, Indiana.

Sunrise over the Eel River.

Sunrise over the Eel River.

An Indiana farmer's lovely old barn.

An Indiana farmer’s lovely old barn.

Fall in Indiana, Part III

Halloween

The front walk to my house is covered with leaves and last week was also covered with little feet. The first Halloween in the new digs was a success. I had candy and kids showed up. Luckily, the bar of success is low. The kids were charming, sweet, and hilarious. I had princesses, ninjas, and unidentifiable costumes toting plastic pumpkins, grocery bags, and pillow cases (I had never seen pillow cases before). All were fun, but there was one little group that appeared that I wanted to immediately adopt.

A brother and sister presented themselves in what were very obviously homemade costumes – a bat and a kangaroo (complete with pouch). They were totally old-school-Halloween. No plastic masks for them. It was fun to see. Next was a little lady dressed as batgirl, she donned a pink tutu with a pink top with the black batman logo on it. She was precious. She was followed by what I would like to believe was me at 5 – she was so excited to tell me what she was dressed as that she was practically jumping up and down. She asked (yelled) “do you know what I am?” I said, “what are you?” And she look up at me through the little white mask that only outlined her eyes and announced I am spider-girl! She was awesome, I hope she never changes.

Frost

These days 5:30 a.m. comes pretty early and very dark. On a recent morning, after squandering the first 25 minutes of my day laying in bed on my iPhone, I traipsed out into the backyard with The Queen for her morning walk. I was surprised to find the first hard frost. It was pretty – shiny and glistening. That, of course, is easy for me to say because I have a garage. I’m guessing the folks who were warming up their cars and scraping windshields would not agree.

Fall in Indiana, Part I

It is fall in Indiana. The summer breeze has turned into a cold wind, the hot days are gone, and the fireplace is burning. But it is still pretty.