Monday, January 12, 2009
I was recently reading on another weblog about someone who suffers Winter Depression. I have struggled periodically with this and other kinds of depression as well.
Winter makes the daily routine harder around here. We carry endless loads of firewood. I carry a hatchet each morning and evening to break the ice on the rubber poultry waterers. Plowing snow on an open tractor is cold and accomplishes nothing lasting, but just gets snow out of the way so I can function. The frost heave freezes barn doors shut,and our "frost free" water hydrant in the barn has been known to freeze shut. The man who put it in no longer sells that brand. The diesel tractors can freeze up without kerosene or expensive on road fuel.
When I get frustrated in this way, a few thoughts help. One is not very nice, but I remember that there is some poor fellow in Alberta or North Dakota who has it worse than me.
I also spend evenings reading some of the old Ben East stories published in Outdoor Life in the 1930's and 1950's. East chronicled all kinds of adventures from arctic misery,wilderness plane crashes, and bear attacks. Great reading near a warm fire. I try to soak in all the sunshine I can, on the few sunny days we get in this area in Winter. I try to keep busy, but if a nonessential task gets frustrating I leave it for later.
When I can, I try to have more fun in the Winter. Between the bad storms and cold spells, there are times to indulge hobbies like shooting.
Ultimately, My beef with hard Winter is really a beef against nature. A complaint with the realities of nature is and old agrarian complaint. Generations of Farmers have shaken their hands at the sky in frustration with cold, flood, drought, or heat. If not that, there is some vagary of merciless nature. It can be found in the earliest agrarian literature. Here is some from Virgil's Georgics, though Hesiod would do as well.
Ceres first taught men to plow the land
But soon enough the Wheat fields came to grief
A mildew blight fell on the golden stems
The lazy thistle flourished in the fields,
the crops went under, and a wood of brambles,
Goose grass and star thistle took their place.......
I believe that romantic nature writing was first produced by ancient city dwellers on vacation. Real nature is tooth and claw. It will freeze you, drown you, bite you,starve you, cook you and leave your corpse to rot. The more brittle or extreme the environment, the less room to make a mistake.
A beef with Nature is also a complaint with the Creator of nature. This is my other consolation. I finally figured out after years of anger that the Creator did not intend for this freezing, drowning, biting, or starving. My own nature is no better than the mess around me. However, the Creator took every bit of this painful natural existence upon himself in a great cosmic rescue plan. He even rescued a grumpy middle age Pennsylvania farmer who has been known to shake his fist at the sky in utter frustration.