Sunday, January 13, 2013

Cabin Life: A January Thaw

Red Breasted NuthatchThe sun is slowly creeping up over Whiteface, turning the sky into a mixture of pastel blue, deep purple and burnt orange.  The icicles hanging down in front of the big window reflect the colors as the first chickadees of the morning start to come to the bird feeders.  Herbie and Ed are both on the couch, heads darting back and forth.  The view out the window looks like a Bob Ross painting.  Soft lines and happy little trees everywhere.

The January thaw is upon us here in the Adirondacks.  It’s a nice little break to have temperatures above freezing, but the rain that’s coming surely is not welcome.  Over the last couple of days, I’ve lost almost a foot of snow to the warm, humid air, but I’m not complaining about that.  There’s still plenty of the white stuff on the ground.

So much snow, in fact, that my driveway is no longer drivable.  I’ve been parking at the bottom for over a week now.  There’s obviously a pretty big downside to this, but also a few perks.  I’ve gotten good at not forgetting anything when I leave, and shoveling a hundred yards of driveway is definitely preferable to shoveling a quarter mile of driveway.  Also, the driveway is steep enough and snowy enough for me to ride the sled down to the car.  So even when I have to haul groceries or water up, I at least get a sled ride in exchange.  It’s really not a bad trade.

I called the plow guy back in October, and he said he couldn’t do my driveway this year because he got stuck several times last winter.  I naively thought that I would be able to keep up with the shoveling for the season, and even after the big storm the day after Christmas, I was able to keep the driveway open.  Sure, it was just wide enough for my car to get through, but that’s all I needed.  Then it snowed more.  Everyday day, in fact, and it got to the point where my car just wouldn’t make it up the driveway anymore.

The road I live on is about two miles long.  The first mile is paved, then it turns to dirt all the way out to my place.  The school bus turns around at the end of the pavement, so the town doesn’t bother plowing my end of the road every time it snows.  They only plow it every couple of weeks, regardless of how much snow there is.  This is an annoyance to be sure, but so far I haven’t been stranded out at my cabin.

I noticed last winter that the town plow would catch the end of my driveway and never leave me a snow bank.   This year, however, the first couple of times they plowed they left didn’t go to the end of my driveway, and instead left about fifty or sixty feet of road unplowed that I had to drive through or shovel.  It’s not that much to shovel, but it took me more than six hours to shovel after the Christmas storm and having to clear out that extra fifty feet was a task I really didn’t feel like completing.

This last time they plowed though, the driver must have seen my car parked just off the road in the driveway.  He backed the plow truck into my driveway and cleared that fifty feet of snow.  It was a relief to sled down there yesterday and know that my car was in the clear.  I don’t know if they did it to help me out.  But either way, it’s that little helping hand that locals give each other that makes me love the Adirondacks.

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Having grown up in the southern Adirondacks, Justin has always been at home in the mountains of New York. After graduating from Paul Smiths College, he began his career in the environmental field working for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. After a brief five year detour to Florida, Justin returned to the Adirondacks to live off the grid in a small cabin with no running water or electricity.

Justin continues to work and play in the outdoors, and maintains a blog about living off grid, hiking, and being outside in the Adirondacks called Middle of the Trail.

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