Sometimes milder weather slows things down. The deep snow has become heavy and wet, and the paths through the deep, packed powder, despite being trampled to a seemingly firm and flat surface, suddenly become soft and soggy. Each night the snow refreezes, but this just creates a crust that gives the children at our Childcare an unfair advantage. They skip lightly over the crust, as my strides slow to a two-step-process: Break-and-plunge, break-and-plunge.
Simply pulling your boots from your own footprints uses unusual muscles, and I find myself stiff and sore in new and interesting ways, and, while I ordinarily join the children for a few rides down hills on sleds, I refrain from that when the snow slows me and leaves me achy. I’d rather not huff and puff up the hills as much as usual, and prefer to be a sage on a hill, shouting instructions from on high.
One of our employees suffered an unusual and painful injury to the tailbone, while sledding with the children, and this means my wife and I are on duty more. The schedule is flexible, but I am not as flexible as I once was. I assume I am getting into excellent shape, but at times have a negative attitude about health, when it means getting out of bed involves groaning.
I have to exercise judgment, when I slog with the children out to the flood control dam, as the warm weather changes everything. The mild weather does not slow the streams, and in fact the meadows can flood without a drop of rain, as snowmelt brings on the “freshet.” I don’t trust ice after March first, and the children can no longer sled down the dam and out onto the reservoir, but must sled the other way, down stream from the dam. There is a field at the bottom, but a border of trees on the far side.
First thing in the morning, when the snow is refrozen and crusty, sleds can reach an amazing rate of speed zooming down that dam. In the past forty years I have seen an occasional sled rocket across the field and enter the woods, making a crashing and snapping noise, which causes onlookers to wince. I avoid such situations with the smaller children. They no not understand my caution all. They think I’m a worrywart and fuddy-duddy. Then they are amazed, when I abruptly break my own rule and allow them to sled down the steepest slope.
I do this because the crust thaws, and the snow wilts, and it slows the sledding amazingly. Even as their sleds pack the mushy snow to a polished ice, when they reach the bottom they brake over snow as slippery as wet felt.
Besides the sledding, the driving is also slower. Our roads have been reduced to a pitching and heaving sea of potholes and frost heaves, scraped and gouged by a winter’s worth of plowing, cracked and crumbled by swift shifts from sub-zero freezes to benign thaws. Everyone has taken to weaving as they drive. You would think an approaching driver was drunk, were you not driving the same way. You have to drive straight as you pass an oncoming car, and that usually involves slamming through a pothole or two, and loosening your fillings.
To make matters worse, I have our dog in my truck’s cab. Usually the dog rides in the back of my wife’s truck, but due to being short handed our routine is deranged, and I have to drive with a deranged dog.
My old dog would sit with dignity next to me, watching the world go by and occasionally graciously accepting a pat atop its head. Our new dog is hopelessly neurotic, and is resisting my attempts to train it. It does things like bark ferociously at the wipers, when I turn them on, and constantly needs attention. It paws me and licks me and attempts to be a lap dog though it is much too big.
Which explains why my truck swerves even more than the other vehicles, and moves slower, and sometimes stops.
In any case, sometimes milder weather slows things down.