In which I disclose a Key Coping Strategy for Life in Winter

Here's the thing about autumn in the Swampland: it ends.

Sometimes we Swamplanders get lucky and autumn doesn't end until mid- or even late-October.

Sometimes autumn shows up at the front door on the day before Labor Day, and it ends about a week later, driven out the door by icy rain, blustery winds, power failures, flooded roads, frozen pipes, and endlessly grey skies.

It could happen at any time.

Seasoned Swamplanders know this, and we prepare for winter by stocking up on food and firewood, by unboxing all the polarfleece clothes, by mending the tears in the Gortex parka, and by checking the emergency box in each vehicle to make sure that it contains useful stuff like jumper cables, a wool blanket, a jar of peanuts, a gallon of water, a flashlight with fresh batteries, and a paperback book.

There's one other important strategy that we Swamplanders utilize to get through the winter:

We store up as many Happy Blue Sky Moments as possible before the clouds clamp down and hold us as prisoners for the duration.

That was my task today. The day was bright, the laundry could run without me, and the truck's starter was running reliably, so off I went with Fiddle for a Day of Blue Sky!

In elementary school, the teacher showed us pictures of autumn featuring trees with bright red-and-yellow foliage. We don't get that much here. In fact, I hunted all day to find a brightly-colored tree, and finally found one. I think it has a beetle infestation.

(There are a lot of weather disconnects that we learned in elementary school: winter here isn't bright white and fluffy, it's dark grey and drizzly. Spring isn't green and dazzling, it's green and drizzly. Summer here isn't yellow and hot and dry, it's usually green and drizzly and slightly warmer than spring. The teachers told us to learn the "school seasons" for school and to ignore the school seasons otherwise and to remember our raincoats).

Warm weather and blue skies are meant to be enjoyed no matter what color the trees are, and Fiddle and I spent a few glorious hours trotting and cantering on trails that could turn to cold, ankle-deep mud by the weekend.

In college I learned about the concepts of carpe diem, and memento mori, to seize the day and remember that you will die. These made a lot more sense to me than the "school seasons" ever did.

Clearly, the poets who espoused those beliefs were, in their hearts, Swamplanders who have learned to memento hiber: remember that winter is coming.
ADDITION: While Fee and I were out playing, I took a couple of videos. The "trotting" video just gives me a headache to watch--I guess without my body to absorb the up/down part of the trotting, my eyes can't handle the motion! The "walking" video worked just fine, even though it looks like I've got a horse-head puppet in front of the camera, bobbing around! It took me a couple of tries to get the YouTube link functional--it should work now.

Happy Blue Sky, everyone! Memento Hiber!


  1. I can't even imagine what it's like to live where you are. I don't think I'd survive those grey rainy days. Here in New Mexico we enjoy more than 325 sunny, blue-sky days every year. I think we probably do take it for granted and we don't take advantage of all our warm, beautiful sunny skies as much as we should. So, thank you for the reminder. And thank you for sharing your beautiful ride with Fiddle. You have such pretty trails to ride on, and I loved the view from between Fiddle's ears.


    word verification: "andoxox'

    And oxox for you!

  2. I can't imagine having it all gray and rainy all the time either. Here we have what feels like endless summer and then there's the rest of the time. Like you, our seasons kind of blur together.

    Thanks for sharing your ride and the summer memories.

  3. I love the bit about 'school seasons' and 'carpe diem'!

    Fortunately for us on the other side of the planet, we're just coming out of our winter, which is green and cold and rainy here in New Zealand. But now the spring buds are on the trees.

    So it's a passing of the baton. I'll give you summer back when we're done with it and we'll swap you for winter then...


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