December 11– oh my achin’ back

Shovel time!

Here we go again. It all starts right here — my winter forced exercise program: show shoveling.

The view from my open garage door tells me I’m gonna stay trim this winter if this snow keeps up.  The drift is thigh deep, and I will shovel in shifts if I’m gonna get out of the garage.  My North Dakota 365 project may slide a bit if I can’t hit the highways and byways because there’s too much snow in my driveway.


At the halfway point I know it’s just the start of a canyon pass I’m digging.  By mid-winter the piles on either side of the driveway will dwarf my truck.  And to think, I do it all with a plastic snow shovel! I try to do as much as possible before breakfast. That way I’m burning fat stores instead of food stores.  Then, when I do have breakfast, it is truly nourishing and not just filling the pit.

It takes about 45 minutes to dig out. I do it in 15 or 20 minute “bursts” of energy.  I stop for a break only after I pass out and wake up laying in the driveway. I assume that at that point I need a break.

The end

When I’m done shoveling, I realize that those snowflakes that make the first covering will still be there a few months from now.  It’s that old rule of resource management: first on, last off.

February 23

Buried in the snow, but about to be revealed by the soon-to-come warmth of spring, this old Pontiac lays exposed to the afternoon sun.  It’s ratty interior is barely visible.  It’s rusty surface deflects the snow and absorbs the heat.  The snow drift on the side indicates it’s been a windy winter. Again.

I pass this car often on my road trips east of Wilton.  In the spring it stands out against the green pastures. In the late summer, it is framed by blooming wildflowers and weeds.  I’ve never seen any sign of ownership, though it is in a fenced off collection of old cars, trucks and tractors, but as far as I can tell, I’m the only person who pays it any attention.

Wildlife bounces around the Northern Plains in the winter, looking for food and shelter. Deer especially congregate anywhere they can find food, including this farmstead near Wing, North Dakota.  It’s one of the few signs of life you’ll see on the prairie in winter.

Otherwise, it’s not only the cold, but the wind that populate the Northern Plains.  So, next to an abandoned farm house, with its wind-powered water well, is the newly installed wind turbine that harvests the wind 12 months out of the year. It’s never too cold to grab a bit of North Dakota’s plentiful wind and turn it in to a useable commodity — electricity.