Winter came right on schedule with December. In fact, it started snowing on the Evening of December 2nd, just as the Advent Procession was finishing up at church. Advent isn't Christmas, sure (however much folks these days may think it is) but a nice "White Advent" is just as nice. The only problem with the snow and cold weather is that the school administrators don't seem to know what to do with it. First they canceled school on Monday, with only two inches of snow on the ground, and since then they haven't let the little children play outside in the snow. The first snow of the year, and it's all indoor recess, all the time. It's too cold out, they say. It's going to be a long winter!
Today was my last day of student teaching, and people have been asking me if I'm happy to have it done with. I am not for two reasons. One, I'm sure going to miss those little guys. Two—and this carries much more weight at present—I'm only done with the teaching part, but I still have a considerable amount of work to do before I'm done with the student part. And it's all due on Tuesday. So in short, I'd rather keep on going in the classroom than come home and face everything I have to get done this weekend. After Tuesday, however, yes: I will be happy.
I'm not working on all that work yet, though, so I thought I'd take a moment to delete the deep drifts of spam comments that have been accumulating around here. And speaking of drifts, the daffodils haven't been out for a little while now so I though it's about time for a winter look. Yes, it isn't new, but do you expect I can justify taking the time to create a new style now?! Also, it's my favorite style of the ones I've come up with thus far, so it can serve for a little while here.
It snowed. Unfortunately, Leah and I were both away from home at the time. I actually left the house just as the first flakes were falling, to drive up to Lowell and drop of the last little pieces of work needed to finish my practicum course. So I wasn't going to let a little snow stop me! Also I wasn't worried, because my car doesn't have any sort of problem with the snow until it's high enough to start interfering with the ground clearance. Unfortunately, not everyone else can say the same; either that or there are just too many cars in the world. Or both! In any case, once I got back to Bedford I ran into a traffic jam in which it took me about half an hour to go less than a mile. I never found out what the problem was, either—if it was a wreck or just too many cars trying to get though Bedford Center—because I squeezed by a line of cars and look the long way around. It was still slow, because some people declined to drive faster than 10 miles an hour, but at least I was moving. When I finally got free of all other traffic I accelerated to 40 or so, just to feel the wind in my hair. Then I went inside and vowed never to drive again until everyone promised to get their cars out of my way.
And Leah had it even worse! She was at the mall, and the first time she tried to leave she sat in her car—stationary—for 20 minutes before giving up. Apparently everyone else was trying to escape the snow as well, and I guess there just wasn't room on the roads for them all. Two hours later, things weren't that much better; but, you know, you can't stay in the mall forever. So just before 4:00 she got in her car, and by ten of five she was out of the mall parking lot and on her way home! Very slowly. To drive the five miles home took her about 45 minutes. 45 stressful minutes. But eventually she did make it home safe too, and she vowed never to drive again, ever. At least not to the mall.
The storm that kept us on the roads for so many extra hours the other day didn't even give us that much snow—only about 6 inches, which I supposed is sufficient—but it did lead to alot of complaining! It seems I wasn't the only one to wonder why such a moderate storm destroyed traffic to such an extent, and other people, such as our governor and other assorted leaders in the commonwealth, did so in such a fashion that their comments were covered in the local press. Everyone promised to do better next time.
Happily, next time (today!) fell on a weekend, so no one was inconvenienced. Well, church was canceled for just about everyone, but mostly that's not an inconvenience to anyone but God and the collection plate, and God can handle it. We did buy a bale of hay, or rather straw, for Leah's Sunday school lesson, but even if she doesn't use it next week I'm sure we can find a use for it—bedding or insulation spring to mind. So anyways, we got a good amount of snow this morning—another eight or ten inches, I'd say—but then it must have warmed up in the upper atmosphere or something because it started pretty much raining around noon. Made for a wet and unpleasant afternoon when we were forced to go outside with the dog. We took turns. Otherwise, it was firmly a day for staying inside, which is nice every once and a while.
So we had some friends over yesterday evening for dinner and board games. All the cool kids are playing board games these days. Leah cooked a delicious dinner, reducing my role to that of the last-minute shopper, tasked with gathering beer, bread, and ingredients for pear salad beyond the pears themselves, which we had already. I'll spare you any comments about the price of salad greens (which I supposed is excusable in the depths of winter) and instead focus my commentary on the delicious local (-ish) blue cheese I picked up. I don't know if it was any more delicious than other sorts of blue cheese—I am far from an expert in these matters—but I know it was sure tasty. And an acquired taste, sure. I can see why the little ones, with their limited palettes, aren't fond of the more flavorful cheeses. What I don't understand is how they can take such intense sweet flavors, but I'm sure there is a specialist in the subject who knows the reason for the apparent paradox.
The salad also had toasted pecans. I was sore tempted by the candied walnuts at the store, but at five dollars for what must have been an eight-ounce container or less, I decided to pass. It's bad form when the cost of your salad exceeds that of the rest of the meal by more than a factor of three.
Tired and sore. And so am I. I have learned that I should not attempt to do all of my Christmas shopping—all of the "brick and mortar" part, that is—in one day, because by the end I am so fed up with the whole shopping scene that I'm unable to spend more than a couple of minutes in a store, to say nothing of actually managing to purchase anything. Nevertheless, I somehow to grapple enough items that I feel a distinct drain on my bank account. I'm not actually sure what I bought; it will require further investigation to determine that. I do know that it wasn't everything on my list, so a further expedition into the wilderness of commerce will be necessary later in the week. Can't we do this all online?!
Snow has fallen, snow on snow, Snow on snow. The bleak midwinter is right about now, in fact. It snowed last Thursday when all the traffic was destroyed, and then it snowed all day Sunday (except when it was raining). There were a few flakes yesterday, and then today it was non-stop all day again. Not a blizzard this time, but we still got another four or five inches. The total is now, oh, two feet or so—at least if the chairs on our back porch are anything to go by. The funny thing is that school wasn't canceled today, despite the fact that even at 2:00 in the afternoon the plows were having a hard time keeping ahead of the snow (in our neighborhood at least). Compare that to a couple weeks ago, when a mere two inches was enough to close schools all over Massachusetts. How quickly we adapt.
Also interesting is how light the sky is with all the snow on the ground. I just got back from taking out the dog, and even with the moon mostly concealed by clouds I swear I could have read a book out there. I had plenty of time to observe the phenomenon, because poor Rascal has been having a terrible time finding places to pee these days. Things keep distracting him! All the night noises and smells are so much more fascinating than boring old urinating.
I have made many batches of gingerbread in my days, but usually it's structural gingerbread—that is, the sort that will become part of a gingerbread house and thus needs a certain amount of strength and rigidity. Taste is not a primary concern. Just now, though, I was making some gingerbread cookies, and I figured I might as well try and make them worth eating. To test the results, I asked Leah to taste some of the dough. "How does it compare with the dough I made for the houses?" I asked her.
"Not bad!" she said. "It's actually edible!"
High praise indeed!
We gave away two gingerbread houses, but made sure to keep one for ourselves. It looks just like our house. I'm amazed I never thought to render this house in gingerbread before, but now it is done. Pictures will be forthcoming, perhaps.
The place is swarming with deer, lately. Not that we see them more than once a week or so, but their tracks are everywhere: all over the lawn, on the sidewalk, on snow left on the side of the street from the last storm. This morning I saw they had come up our front walk and nibbled on the rhododendrons over night. Rascal is desperate to eat one, or at least track it down, but he hasn't had much luck so far. I'm just glad we don't have any expensive ornamental evergreens. I don't mind the rhododendrons a bit: they needed a trim anyways.
Now that it's winter for real, the weather has warmed up considerably. At the moment it's pouring rain, in fact, which will probably put a bit of a dent in our accumulation of snow. It's just as well though, because the other day—after another freezing, foot-soaking walk in the woods with the dog Leah was very vocal in expressing her hatred for winter. I didn't have the heart to point out that, at least according to our modern calendar, it was still about four days until winter even started. Well, the walking will be easier tomorrow!