Magnetic North Dec. 31, 2009: Snow and Ice

Crunchy snow covers everything at Magnetic North
Crunchy snow covers everything at Magnetic North

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Welcome back to Magnetic North, where the first decade of the millennium is slip-sliding away on a solid sheet of ice.

Our beautiful Christmas Eve snow, perfect for making snowmen, turned to cement. You could cut igloo bricks out of it. Not my idea of fun. Ice coats all surfaces. And as if to emphasize the danger inherent in stepping outside, great frozen Windigo fangs hang menacingly from downspouts.

Yes, yes, I know that a few weeks back I prayed for snow. Proof again that prayers must be specific….a fact I learned one winter long ago stranded on my own road. After stumbling on black ice in the dark, loaded down with groceries, I made my way up a neighbor’s driveway, praying only that someone would be home and would answer the door. Sadly, I did not think to specify that the someone have clothes on.

By the by, the fellow doesn’t live here anymore, so I can tell this without embarrassing him any more than I did that cold, dark night.

The poor man had been in the shower, then ran to answer the phone just as I was approaching the back door. As I knocked, I glanced inside the storm door to see a flash of bare skin as my would-be rescuer dove behind his kitchen counter. Happily, the fellow was a forgiving sort. In fact, after dressing and revving up his truck to drive me home, he even apologized for “being naked.” Now THAT’s Minnesota Nice!

Nothing so dramatic has happened this winter as a result of my snow prayers. My paths to the barn and coop were wrecked by the heavy snow so I can’t kick sled for a while. In fact, I could barely walk a straight line for a day or two. Imagine walking 200 feet by jamming each foot through 10 inches of crusted-over snow. Even pulling a sled with heavy water buckets isn’t enough to moosh down the ridge between footprints. So the impressions just get deeper and deeper. More likely to twist an ankle with every trip.

Would you believe this nasty situation was completely solved by my six darling goats and a malfunctioning electric fence? The fence shorted out around Thanksgiving, so the goats soon learned to shimmy under the high tensile wire and wander about, eating all my pretty evergreen boughs out of three window boxes and committing other unspeakable acts. During one disastrous trip to the coop with three cans of chicken scratch, the gang of six formed a goat vortex around me. Within seconds, the cans were butted out of my grasp and, many curses and kicks later, I stood red-faced and furious. Now my dog, Scout, escorts me and herds the little bums back to the barn if they bother me.

Then came the cement snow. Surely this would keep the ravenous goats inside the fence. But no. The first time I tried to fill our bird feeder with sunflower seeds, something I have to scramble up a stepladder in the middle of a snowbank to accomplish, here come the goats! I threw both cans of seed at the thundering herd and saved myself. Little did I know that even as they sought to deprive the poor chickadees and nuthatches of a meal, their pointy little hooves were smoothing the path between barn and house. Serendipity strikes again!

Naturally, my critters are a big part of my New Year’s resolutions. Forget diet and exercise and money. Except for the usual - eat only good chocolate, spend one whole day a month in bed and buy locally - my resolutions are all about time. I am, as my friend Sally says, a “time optimist.” I always think I have plenty and so tend to do “just one more thing” thus arriving late to almost everything…including going to bed. For example, just one resolution of mine is to never begin grooming an angora rabbit after 10 pm. I’m pretty sure that’s one that won’t show up on many resolution lists, even in Cook County.

So Happy New Year all. Thank you and this station for giving me a forum for my funny life. May your 2010 be all that you hope. And may all your prayers be answered. Just remember, don’t just be careful what you pray for. Be specific!
 

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