Wrestling with winter

When you live in the Adirondacks – and in the heart of the
Adirondacks, none of this fringe or foothills stuff – like we do,
this is the time of year when, if you’re not careful, you can begin
to feel incarcerated. You generally choose to stay inside, and if
you do go out it’s to shovel snow, clean off the vehicles and run
to the post office, where your county and town tax bill awaits.

Around mid-January we typically have enough snow that if you’re
planning on doing any hunting, it will be on snowshoes. On many
waters, mobility on the ice becomes a challenge as snow piles up
and often creates slushy conditions. And it’s cold; we’ve dipped
into that 20 below and beyond range where you check the thermometer
pretty regularly each morning just to get a laugh and an exact
reading, then throw another log or two in the woodstove and
unceremoniously boot Haley, our youngest Lab, from in front of the
Monitor heater so old Ben gets the front row.

So it’s easy, when you do just a little thinking, to come up
with plenty of reasons to stay inside. It’s a lot simpler to just
crank up the heater in the basement and tie a few flies, or sit at
the kitchen table and tie some leaders in preparation for a
fly-fishing season that seems light years away. Ben, too, gives us
an added excuse; Paula and I can rarely venture out together for
more than a few hours because, as he nears 15, we refuse to kennel
him outside, even though his house is heated. So that rules out any
duo ice-fishing excursions.

Still, there are plenty of possibilities. I’ve seen some hare
tracks in the driveway. They’re always around and sometimes even
trigger our motion detector lights in the middle of the night. So I
could strap on the Tubbs, grab the shotgun and kick out back for a
while, looking for a grouse or snowshoe. And I have, in fact, done
a little ice fishing – albeit with a friend and without Paula as
she stayed home with Ben and the other two Labs, one of which
(Maddie) is now 11 and approaching that stage where she gets some
special consideration. A younger buddy – they’re all younger to me
anymore, it seems – has been doing a little shed hunting when
conditions permit, but that will come later now that the snow is
piling up.

Up here, there comes a point every winter where, regardless of
the elements, you just have to get out there. I recall a couple
years back when Paula and I took to Lake Champlain when the
temperature was 22 below at mid-day. That’s a serious case of cabin
fever we were addressing. And we’ve hunted pheasants – stocked
birds up here – on days when the wind was so bad if you lost your
hat you just waved goodbye, knowing it would end up in Vermont,
maybe even New Hampshire.

So we will get out here and there. Up here, if you surrender to
Old Man Winter, you’ll watch a lot of TV. And you won’t have nearly
as much fun.

 

Categories: New York – Steve Piatt

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