Status Report

I’ve shoveled three times today, so far.  Big flakes are supposed to keep falling from the sky for the next two days.  I checked my neighbors’ house – they’re out of state for the holidays and now trapped in the Midwest – to make sure their pipes don’t freeze.  So far, so good.  So far may be the phrase of the day.

The newspapers are calling this either a “heavy snow” or a “low-grade blizzard.”  Heavy it’s not.  It’s light and powdery and if you shovel early and often, it’s pretty easy to move.  When (if) the traveling neighbors get home, we’ll all have to chip in and dig them out.  For now it’s enough for the rest of us to keep our own spots clear.

I always have the week between Christmas and New Year’s off, which is good, because it’s the week I tend to be knocked on my keister by some bug.  Weeks of rushing around, tending to end-of-year necessities and when I finally slow down, something catches me or I catch it, I’m not entirely sure how it works.  This year’s version seems to affect me only from the throat up, which is kinder than some varieties.

Aside from a table full of OTC cold meds (including the dreaded Chloraseptic), I’m nursing myself through with a combination of lemon juice, honey, fresh ginger and cayenne pepper, all mixed with boiling water.  It works, but makes me wish I’d gotten a new batch of handkerchiefs for Christmas.

Getting sick is my body telling me to slow down and so I nap and read.  Among the books Adrienne gave me this year is a history of the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry, which is not as the jacket advertises, the greatest in the history of sport.  That distinction belongs to Glasgow’s Old Firm, the name given to the often-bloody century-long competition between the Celtic and Rangers football clubs.  As a baseball fan, I’m happy to cede that title to the Scots.  I don’t want to fall that low.

The baseball book, unbeknownst to Adrienne, was written by a guy who not only graduated from the same journalism program I did, but also got his start on the same small town newspaper as I.  He’s writing baseball books, I’m shoveling the driveway.  I wouldn’t trade places.

Across the hall, Justin Bieber blares about lost love as the teen girl sorts through her post-Christmas “mall haul.” Or dances or does her makeup or lies on the bed, Tweeting.  Who can say?  Burlington High School this year moved its end of term exams to the week before holiday break instead of the week after, which frees the teen from studying over break (as if!), but anxiety over grades – which are now posted online (or not) – remains, mainly because access to various electronic devices depends on them.

When the fog in my sinuses breaks, I can smell the pork butt roasting slowly with garlic and rosemary in the kitchen.  I can hear Adrienne at the front window with another weather report.  “It’s really coming down now,” she says.  “Here comes the plow.”  That must be my cue to get back out and shovel.  She and another neighbor spent an hour this afternoon trying to corral a runaway dog (the traveling neighbors’) that just wanted to run and play in the snow.

This is the week when nothing happens and we want nothing to happen.  The computer’s still there, filling up with fiscal cliffs, gun debates and year-end lists of dead celebrities and weird weather events, but it all seems far away while home and hearth (hot water radiators, actually) loom large.  Until we start getting on each other’s nerves.

Two thousand twelve was a tough year.  At some point in July I said to Adrienne, “I thought last year was tough, but it turns out it was just conditioning.  If we’d had this year last year, it’d have killed me.”  A week later, I crashed my bike and broke my wrist, so 2012 only winged me.

This week every year, the girls and I take a moment to write a few thoughts for the coming year and tuck them away in a book to be read 12 months later.  Kind of an annual status report.  I don’t know when we’ll do it this week or what I’ll write and maybe that’s for the best.  The older I get the less I hope for specific outcomes and the more I just want to take what life sends me.  I hope life sends you good things in the year ahead.

© Mark Floegel, 2012

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