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The upside of winters in upstate

I was going through some old Life Lines columns and happened to come across this one from January 2002. This snowy Sunday seemed like the perfect time to pull it out of the archives and reprint it here:

Ever since we moved back to New York after almost six years in Texas, we’ve heard the same thing over and over again from friends, relatives, co-workers, and absolute strangers: Are you ready for the loooooong winter? As if we live in Nome, Alaska.

We smile and remind everyone that – in addition to the fact that we’ve already lived through a loooooong winter in upstate New York since arriving here in early January last year – we were born and raised not all that far from here. Our kids may not have seen snow before landing at Newark International Airport, but I have many fond memories of snow days and sleigh riding, cold toes and hot cocoa. Yes, we’re ready for the loooooong winter because it gives us a chance to sloooooow down. Read more

Entering Advent, sometimes kicking and screaming

If you’ve been a reader of this blog since the early days, you know my family has had some Advent struggles over the years. There was the time we needed to start Advent with a coin toss, and the time I canceled Advent as punishment. Yeah, we like to keep things interesting. But, I have to admit that I get sort of melancholy when I read about those days. Life moves by so quickly, and, before you know it, opening the doors on a calendar just doesn’t hold the same fascination. Enjoy it while you can. Read more

The soul finds what the soul needs

I always say that every book I write, every retreat I lead, every workshop I present takes me to the next place I need to go on my spiritual journey. I never seem to realize that going in because I’m a little thick, and God needs to get my attention, and not always subtly. But I recognize it in hindsight, so I guess that’s something. Read more

From where I’m sitting…

Here’s the view from my “office” today. The snow may be coming down like crazy, but the temperatures are warm enough that I can get the three-season sun porch to a comfortable temp with an electric “stove” and space heater. Not a bad way to have to work. (And the kids are in the basement, apparently unaware of my temporary relocation.)

The view above is from my workspace on the couch. Below are some shots of the scenery.

Our Lady of Guadalupe did not see her shadow

Looks like Our Lady of Guadalupe will not disappear under the snow, as previously expected, due to a winter storm that turned out to be more of a dud than a monster, at least here. The kids so could have gone to school today. Snow and sleet stopped a while ago. Now it’s quite lovely out. Looks like it will be an early spring based on Our Lady’s predictions.

Here’s what Our Lady of Guadalupe looks like right now:

Here’s where she was yesterday around this time:

So there’s been some significant snow build-up but nothing to make us upstate New Yorkers slow down. Plus I think her snow totals are benefiting from some drifting, or possibly the intervention of a Higher Power.

In other news at the Poust house. Here’s the teenager getting a lesson in how to use the snow thrower:

Here are the girls making the requisite snow angels and going down the slide:

Here’s a view of our sun porch, which is heating up right now so I can enjoy the snow from the warmth of the cozy house.

Our Lady of Guadalupe’s latest snow report

Okay, things are not looking good for Our Lady of Guadalupe as she stands vigil over our backyard as the snow encroaches. (That’s her out there right at the bottom of the big tree.) We are using her as a barometer of the storm.

Here’s where she was around 10 a.m.:

Here’s where she is now:

Check back tomorrow to see how she fares…

The Zen of snow shoveling

I just finished shoveling out our driveway. It started as an effort simply to get through the icy snow bank left by the plow at the end of the driveway so I could get the van out and pick up Noah from school. (I was afraid he’d get hit by a car or plow while walking home from the bus stop.) When I got home, I decided to continue where I left off and just kept shoveling.

We have a gas-powered snow thrower, although I have to admit that I’ve never used it. Dennis does all the snow throwing, and leaf blowing. I prefer the old-fashioned way — shoveling and raking. There is something very meditative about both chores. They are, in a sense, very zen. You shovel snow while snowflakes fall covering up the space you just cleared with more snow. Same thing with autumn leaves. If you’ve ever raked a yard in the northeast, you know that raking can be an exercise in futility. Your efforts are quickly lost in a swirl of brown and orange and red.

Noah was not so charmed by this zen twist on shoveling. He just stared at me with that 14-year-old look. So I tried another approach, as he struggled to help with the snow removal. I suggested that knowing how to shovel a driveway might come in handy if ever he had his own place and no snow thrower to get the job done. Still not impressed. Finally I gave him some pointers on the art of shoveling and told him he should take pride in his work. “In shoveling snow,” he asked, incredulous. Yes, even in shoveling snow. Or maybe, especially in shoveling snow.

So the driveway is clear. For now. It was a nice little exercise — mental and physical — on this day when I couldn’t get to the Y. But it’s even nicer to know that Dennis will be around to handle that big snow tomorrow.

Weather not fit for squirrels nor statues

I don’t know what Our Lady of Guadalupe did to deserve such treatment. Normally she winters inside with St. Francis of Assisi. But this year, while St. Francis is snug and dry and relatively warm in our garage, Our Lady has been left to fend for herself in the backyard. And she’s not used to this kind of weather where she comes from.

It is snowing like crazy here, but the kids are at school and Dennis is on the way to work. Things promise to get worse by tomorrow. I thought we could use Our Lady of Guadalupe as a barometer of the storm here. We’ll check back in tomorrow to see if she’s up to her ears yet.

Here’s the long view of her location:

Here’s one of her backyard partners, digging out acorns from a snowbank on our deck:

Here are the pines behind our house. Let’s hope the storm doesn’t break their branches, which hang precariously over our power lines.

The icing on the church

When I walked into Sunday Mass yesterday, I was taken aback by the beauty of the icicles hanging from the eaves all along the main church. I vowed to go back later and take a picture. I did not. Then, today, I went to 12:15 p.m. Mass, and, as I came up the sidewalk, realized I forgot all about the icicles. So after Mass I ran home, grabbed the camera and went back. I’m sure my pastor must have thought I was nuts if he spied me out the window. I couldn’t resist. You can see the result in my new header photo for this blog and below.