Blizzard of 2009

We have been snowed in all weekend. A blizzard hit DC. Big snows don’t come very often here, but when they do everything shifts and changes and the world transforms. Suddenly all the details become lost in blankets of white that spread and cover and hide and shift and bury everything we thought we once knew. The world is full and empty and new again.

The snow arrived on Saturday. I spent my morning shoveling, only to find that the steps were covered as soon as I stopped. I spent my afternoon walking Max back and forth to his friend’s house. The 10 minute walk across the park became a 30 minute hike through wind and blowing snow, growing deeper around our legs each time we ventured out. We made 5 trips back and forth. When Max would collapse dramatically in the snowbanks, telling me he was too exhausted to complete this quest, I would simply urge him to just keep moving. He called me “Hermes”, the god of travelers. He held my hand. He counted on the fact I would carry him through, even though he had to walk the whole way himself.

I spent the evening curled up listening to friends play their guitars by a fire, thinking that it was a postcard scene of winter. I spent the entire next day digging out and still my steps turned to ice. As I shoveled for hours on end I alternated between feeling proud and strong (what other woman did I know who was shoveling her driveway?) and bitter and alone (what other woman did I know who was shoveling her driveway?). But mostly I just shoveled because it needed to be done and I was the only one to do it, no matter what story I would tell about it.

And now today, despite the clear roads we all have a day off. I am not sure what to make of this unexpected bounty. I lit a fire in the morning and made banana bread. I will wrap presents and listen to new music.

But mostly, what I crave, more than anything is to be alone. Its the solstice and I feel the yin, dark, quietness and want to stay here. Some journeys are to be taken alone. I will continue my never ending quest to empty my life of clutter, of the unnecessary, and hope that maybe the magic of the winter solstice will make this clearing easier. I want to empty, empty my brain of thoughts, empty my closets of junk, empty my life of what is no longer needed. Maybe the clearing is the way through the darkness.

The ancients believed this is that day that requires the most faith. Before modern astronomy taught us about predictable orbits, only the most unshakable real trust would do. I wonder what it takes to touch that faith.

Tomorrow, there will be a little more light and we will begin slow climb toward summer’s fullness. But now I will choose empty and see what happens.

2 Responses to “Empty”

  1. Lindsey Says:

    This is the holiest day for me, has always been, so I am heartened to hear that I am not alone in that sense. And your words help my flickering faith, please know that.
    I hope it is okay that I quoted and linked to you on my blog today. Your words are gorgeous, a sliver of light on this very dark day.

  2. Lucille Says:

    Oh my—-I loved what you wrote about how you were shoveling—and the alternating feelings of pride and bitterness…boy, have I been there, am I there…You described it so well too. It is a grand thing to feel powerful and strong and able to manage things (and I do believe our sons will remember this about us—about how strong their moms were, I tell myself this) but I wonder if I will ever lose that sense of loss and bitterness you described, when doing something I feel should/could rightly be done by someone else, a partner, or at least shared by someone else—sometimes I just feel that way lugging the garbage can out in the dark at the end of a busy evening, when I couldn’t get it out there sooner, and there’s no one else to do it but me.

    Thanks for sharing. Merry Christmas!