to keep the snow fire burning

Originally published November 25, 2007

It is snowing.

Big, wet, wintery flakes are a falling. It is too early to tell if it will stick, but there is enough objective evidence afoot to state that I was unable to build a fire in said conditions.

I have previously opined about my disdain for wintery conditions such as these, with the cold and the ice and the slush and the wind and the darkness and the cold and such. I am not a winter person. For those of you that are winter people, you skiiers and skaters and snowman makers, this is probably the kind of evening that brings a smile to your rosey red faces. Bully for you. I on the other hand am not impressed….well, not totally at least.

I do enjoy the rockwellian images of white fluffies on Xmas morn, drifts against the log cabins in the paintings on the walls of wintery places and of course the hot of hot chocolate sipped after coming in from out of doors. I have been snowboarding a time or two, it was enjoyable, but not yet habit forming. As the son of a Canadian I have played ice hockey, although in all fairness this sport is typically played indoors and can be enjoyed year round. There is also snowball fights, which can be fun both drunk and sober. Aside from these things I have little appreciation for winter.

This year was to be different though. It was my intention to soften my harsh rhetoric upon this season and go forth this winter with a new and profound peace amidst the flakes and freezes. I invested meditation time to prepare myself for the first snow in the hopes that I could become at least a quasi-winter person, seeing as how I live here and all. It was a 50-50 proposition when on Thanksgiving morning I looked out the window to see the frost on the fallen leaves and the faint remainder of the nights snow on the tin roofs of the sheds in the neighbors yard. Fight the urge. You can do this. It isn’t that bad. Then I ventured out to my car and saw that fateful glimmer of snow upon my rear windshield, crescent shaped and white, soft and shiny.

Fuck.

I fed myself positive affirmations and a dose of optimism but could not shake the feeling that I was in for something cold and unpleasant once again this year.

My car started, on the first try, that was a good sign. The roads were clear and driveable, also a plus. I did not have to retrieve the industrial ice scraper from my trunk, the soft shiny white simply fluttered away from my window as effortlessly as it surely had fallen. Aces so far. There were no frozen locks, 6 car pileups, whiteouts or snowmen impeding my progress, abominable or otherwise. Perhaps this is the dawning of a new age. Still, in the darkest corner of my mind the voices of Cory Wells and Danny Hutton could be heard warming up a version of Eli’s Coming, the international musical sign of bad mojo on the way.

But it was Thanksgiving day. There would be family and turkey and football and stuffing and children running when adults said not too, the ill-fitting dress shirts of the boys coming untucked in a whirlwind of activty and sweat, the fancy dresses of the girls finding dirt and dust from the floors and old toys pulled out of closets for just such an occasion. There would be togetherness. There would be fake fire in the fake fireplace, peas and carrots, pierogies and pies. There would be happy. There would be holiday. This appears to be a good day despite this most ominous omen, this first snowfall.

Then I broke my hand.

In the interest of stating facts I should be clear that the wintery conditions did not directly contribute to the breaking of my hand. I did not fall on slippery steps. I did not punch somthing frozen out of anger that it was frozen. I whacked the back of my hand butt good on a solid metal doorknob…..while putting on my coat. Clearly if it were warmer I would not need a coat and therefore would not have found myself swinging my arm wildly in an effort to get my arm through the tangled sleeve. So I say with some confidence that winter indirectly contributed to my self-inflicted ailment.

I have spoken with an attorney regarding a fat lawsuit which would compensate me for pain and suffering but it seems that one can not sue old man winter. He is “not real”, and therefore has no assets to which I can lay claim. Shady fucker.

It is my left hand, fortunately, as I am a right handed man with a right handed plan. My particular injury was diagnosed by the good doctors as a non-displaced fracture of the lunate carpal bone of the left hand. The lunate carpal bone is one of 7 bones that connect the wrist to the bones of the hand. It is approx the size of a quarter. Mine apparently cracked right down the center, twelve and a half cents on each side.

Yes, it hurts. No, I do not have a cast (I was given a new-fangled immobilizing brace). No, I do not believe I will need surgery, although it is possible. Yes, I missed Thanksgiving dinner because I was too busy spending 4 hours in the emergency room. I got leftovers though.

This injury has had an impact on my day-to-day, albeit manageable. I have some mobility in the fingers and can use one of said digits for typing and pushing and such. The sad part is that for the next 2 – 8 weeks I will be unable to play my guitar, play pool (with 2 hands) and enter this years left-handed thumb wrasslin championship at the local lodge. Alas, there is always next year.

I don’t find the timing of my injury to be coincidence. I don’t find it to be ironic. This was a jab from the guardian of winter, from that omnipresent being overhead, from God himself.

One should not trifle with weather, lest God smite you.

I have been less than quiet over the years with my opinions on the season, and less than flattering of God’s work during these winter months. This was clearly a proverbial smack on the wrist designed to silence me. I am being tested. I am being watched. Eli’s coming.

How to respond? Perhaps I should sully my venom and embrace this time of year for its inherent beauty. Perhaps I should turn my frown upside down with another snowboarding trip. Perhaps I should knit myself a scarf and some big toasty mittens and drink cocoa and smile like the people in the Thomas Kinkade paintings. Perhaps I should tell God to get a fucking shovel and clear my driveway. My mother taught me to clean up after myself, didn’t his? Where does he get off dumping tons of this shit on me every winter? That’s just rude.

I was all set to embrace winter, as best as I could, I really was. I was going to bite my tongue while chiseling icebergs from my car windows this year. I was going to put on a sweater when it got cold without grumbling under my breath for once. I was all set to build a fire in a snowstorm and enjoy a nice Sunday evening. But then Eli came and broke my hand.

That’s ok, my right hand has a middle finger too. And God is watching, he’s always watching.

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