Sunday, February 24, 2013

little toe in the land of firewood, blizzards, and petunias

It was Tuesday that firewood tumbled from the dwindling stack in the garage, one piece spearheading Little Toe, and Little Toe broke, of that I am pretty sure. It was late afternoon on the day of the blizzard, though the truly blizzardly part of the blizzard didn’t kick in until that night.

The amount of snow that fell Tuesday and Wednesday didn’t seem that great, but the wind surely was, and elsewhere in the U.P. three feet of snow piled up and drifts grew twice that size. A stretch of one of the main highways was closed from Tuesday night until Thursday morning, which was the day I went to Marquette to check my candle display at the gallery.

It was Monday that the petunias bloomed. I had brought the pot in from the porch in the fall, putting it on a small table by a south window near the wood stove. And it was Tuesday morning that the guy who built this cabin stopped by on his way to Houghton. I learned more about the cabin’s early life, how it came to be, including that it was the trusses that decided the cabin’s size, a footprint of 20-by-25 feet, and that it’s thanks to his wive that the bathroom is not tucked under the stairs but rather sprawls out in a space that could have been a second bedroom.

Trusses, October 2010.
It was either Monday or Tuesday that I walked the snowshoe trail out to and along the river. For most of the way, rabbit tracks ran alongside the trail. They ended near a small spruce. The snow around the spruce was adorned with tufts of brown and white fur and was slightly trampled and discolored with splotches of rust and piss yellow. There were other tracks, too, the tracks of a hawk or an eagle as it lightly touched down, at least twice, the landings a foot or so away from the little spruce and about three or four feet from each other: two parallel, silver dollar coin slots, just inches apart, enclosed in a set of feathery parentheses. Another step up the trail, another tuft of fur.

It seemed that all day Thursday, the day between blizzards, the day I went to Marquette, that the sky was falling, getting lower and lower, all day long, as if laden with a grief too grey and too heavy to bear.

It was Friday that was eerily still, and it was Friday that we were enveloped by a great heavy non-stop snow. Without wind, I don’t suppose one could call it a blizzard, but maybe there’s something called blizzard interruptus—a great wind, a great stillness, a great snow.

By Saturday afternoon the storms were over and I was ready to break new trails. I strapped on the snowshoes, tested Little Toe, all seemed well, but halfway around the loop we turned back. Little Toe wasn’t quite ready, after all, and back home there were candles to be made, beeswax and cinnamon wolves, destined for Canada.

Potted petunias taking the air.
It was this morning, then, out on the porch before dawn, that I smelled the snow, the pure dampness of it, dampness brought out by temperatures lolling in the 20s. No wind, no falling snow, just icicles along the porch roof, a landscape of feathery grey and white, Elliott by the carport, peeking around its makeshift wall at the end of the shoveled path, the first morning in quite a while that he has stayed out for more than a minute or two, has ventured off the porch or come out from beneath it. In the dwindling wood stacks, mice and voles.

Read last week’s post, or listen to it.


  1. I don't know about you, but when it is blizzardy (more like occasionally snowblustery where I live) it is one time that I am glad my little B no longer has to brave the nasty weather to do her business. Especially towards the end when she wasn't as robust as the old days. Love to see the petunias this time of year! P.S. Toes may be little, but they hurt like hang when you break one! P

    1. Well there's a new expression for me: hurt like hang. And that it did when the log first hit and for minutes after. Now Little Toe just hurts whenever it bends. Though today it seems a bit better.

      Yes, this week's weather would have been very hard for Buster. Sometimes when I wake up in the morning I feel his head on my shoulder. It is not what I expected, but it is quite comforting. (Luckily, I don't smell his breath ... )