Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mid-winter Yuck


Duke and I are on the same page.  I know not everyone who reads this has winter like we have winter in New Jersey, but for those who do, hasn't this been a let-down?  I mean, there's snow, but not enough for snowmobiles and barely enough for cross-country skiing in the pasture.  Zip misses being able to stand on the back of my ski and send me flying.  There's ice enough for Leo to tiptoe in for breakfast, but not enough to skate on.  I'm fully recovered from the knee injury incurred while skating over clumps in the hay field.  It's still a little pretty, but the meltage is revealing manure that's still frozen and impossible to move but hasn't lost a bit of its odor.


I have used the down time as a learning opportunity.  I've learned that I'm in no way focused enough to complete more than Lesson One in my home course in Mandarin.  I've learned that all the horses are more than happy to learn tricks in the barn aisle as a means to avoiding going outside.  I've learned that these are the absolutely best winter barn gloves:


They're from Under Armor, designed for winter jogging, but they are the warmest, thinnest, and most flexible winter gloves I've ever found for barn work.  They're polar fleece on the back with rubberized UA logos all over the palm side.  Not waterproof, but they're thin enough to dry quickly.  The down side is that the fleece attracts hay like a magnet, so I bought a second pair for venturing into polite society (like the feed store).  The up side is that I don't have to take them off to fish the little scoop out of the supplement jar, so my fingers don't get cold. And I can ride with them on, should I lose my mind and decide to do so.  And that flash in the photo is the reflective strip that will be very helpful when I fall out of the loft into the snow drift behind the barn.  If I can get one hand up, at least I won't get run over by Cliff on the tractor because the headlight reflection will give me away.

I've also learned that I need to stop buying books.  There was a moment when I gleefully thought that this would be fine weather for catching up on my reading.  I had no idea I'd amassed such a stack of literature...and that's only the hard-copy stuff!  My Kindles overfloweth.  Three of them.  And magazines!  Why do they keep making them cheaper so I can't resist their glossy covers and tantalizing articles?

I've learned that the recycling center takes white paper.  Who knew?  I've been shredding it and using it for packing material for years.  Now I have a whole new obsession, sorting out papers with identifying information (like my Social Security number or bank accounts), shredding those and recycling the rest.  OCD's Christmas dream-come-true!

I discovered that the chickens were apparently waiting for the grand dame with the butt tumor to meet her demise so they could resume laying, and that they are more prolific during the winter than during the summer, which is totally counterintuitive.  I find that there's less on TV of value than I thought when I was too busy riding to care.  And I can injure myself quite successfully without putting foot to stirrup.  Not riding and not gardening and jumping on the dreadmill in frustration is not good for muscle tone, and my back brace will attest to that.  

I now know that I'm not safe with a cup of tea and a squishy couch.  I'm hoping the second-degree burns on my thigh and elbow will heal before water aerobics starts again in March as the thought of chlorine on those tender red patches brings a chill to my heart.

But the biggest lesson winter teaches every year and I forget just as regularly is that it's not nearly long enough!  The list of things I'll do "this winter, when the weather's too crappy to ride" is far longer than any single winter could ever accommodate.  Come spring, I'll still have closets that haven't been cleaned, stories that haven't been written, a belly that hasn't been flattened, and friends I haven't visited..again.  Winter used to be longer, I swear.  When I was a kid, it lasted for half the year, didn't it?  Back then, I got a good start on all those resolutions before the sun lured me back outside and wiped my memory clean.  Now I can only blame climate change (and maybe age and a tendency to procrastinate) for the dearth of goals reached.  That's my story, and if I can remember it, I'm sticking to it.

To those of you Faithful Readers who live in climates where winter brings a different set of issues,  I wish you well.  My fellow sufferers, remember it could always be worse...and it will be as soon as the January thaw is done turning everything to mush.  Think happy!

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