We got an inch or two of snow last week. Finally. It’s the middle of February and it has only snowed like three or four times out here in this happiest of valleys. These timid Pennsylvania winters are a disappointment to a hearty kid from Minnesota.
And please don’t mistake that sentence for any real bravado. I shiver and whine when the temperature drops. This easy Pennsylvania living has taken its toll. I’m not the warrior of the tundra I used to be. I’m an adult now and don’t much care for snow. Shoveling. Slippery roads. The kid that loved to watch the snow pile up outside the window has been replaced by an old curmudgeon. Snow angels? Bah humbug.
Regardless, it did finally snow out here. A few inches. The whole town shut down. Wimps. The Tanner family holed up. I played Out of the Park baseball and wrote this blog. Solomon and Samson jammed Play-Doh into any crevice they could find. Katie did some laundry and drank tea. Our furnace hummed.
It was sixty degrees a few weeks ago. A January heat-wave. I’m no climate scientist, but I noticed confused flocks of birds returning to the trees in my backyard, only to be hit with a mild blizzard a week later. I’m not suggesting the weather in this happiest of valleys is any sort of evidence of climate change because, as I wrote, I’m not a climate scientist. The fact that Australia is on fire, the Great Barrier Reef is dying, and your lungs might get scorched from a couple of deep breathes in New Delhi? Yeah, that seems a little more alarming. But what do I know? I’m a just a hearty kid from Minnesota, making my way through 2020 with the rest of you.
Winter break is dead and gone. I’m two weeks deep into a frantic semester. Rushing from one task to another. Just a hearty adult from Minnesota, making my way through the tenure-track with the rest of you academic-types.
Of course, it’s not just the tenure-track that stresses me out. It’s all sorts of adultly-commitments. I’m sure you’ve got your share of adultly-commitments, whatever track you’re on. So don’t take my whining as anything more than whining. I’m not whine-bragging about all of my earthly accomplishments. Only kvetching.
Writing can provide a little space to step outside of adultly-commitments in order to think about adultly-commitments. At least, some writing can. This writing certainly can. It often seems I follow that sort of introspective line-of-flighting in these blogs. Such a direction might come off as whining, kvetching, or navel-gazing. I’m really not sure, because I don’t spend too much time worrying about how this writing comes off. Just do it, post it, and move on. Non-evaluative participation. That’s a thing in improv. It’s a thing for me as a writer of these blogs, too. Better not to worry about whether or not the stuff is good and bad. Better to keep doing it. Growing through the ongoing practice of doing. Something like that.
It’s a good thing to step outside of adultly-commitments, I think. Especially when those adultly-commitments dominate the things you do, say, and think. Ways you move through the world. I can get swept away in adulthood. This is especially true when I’ve got my phone in my pocket or my laptop open in front of me. The screen is a conduit to adultly activities such as responding to a billion unending emails or messages. Always something to react to or do.
Can you imagine life without the constant threat of another message? Thirty years ago, back when I really was just a hearty kid in Minnesota, there was no such thing as a Tweet, a Facebook post, a Tinder, a Fintsa, or an email at 3AM. Nobody had a glowing device sitting at their bedside. Sure, there were telephones, but a landline isn’t as intrusive as Steve Jobs’ damnable contraption that always has me reacting to words and images and virtual people through virtual moves.
Get off my lawn, you.
Forgive me, it’s snowing and I’m reeling from a frenetic week of going from place to place, doing this and that, and following adultly tracks.
I took Solomon sledding soon after we moved to State College. I heard tale told of Slab Cabin Park.
“It’s great sledding,” somebody told me.
“Thank you,” I told somebody for telling me.
So I took Solomon and a sled to Slab Cabin Park. The hill was a mountain. The mountain was ice. And I was feeling more like a kid than an adult. So I took Solomon to the top of the glacier.
“Ready?” I asked Solomon.
Solomon was like two or three at the time. So he had no idea what I was about to do to him. He just looked at me and nodded.
“Here we go.”
We probably should’ve died that morning. But we didn’t. God’s providence. Instead, like Sanka in Cool Runnings, we navigated the horrifying trip down the track. And yes, I just referenced Cool Runnings, a really dumb movie with John Candy from the early 90’s. Don’t get the reference? Steve Jobs’ has got your back. Google it, baby.
Anyway, I looked at Solomon at the bottom of the hill.
“You want to go again?” I asked him like an idiot. Like a child.
He shook his head no. Solomon had already learned an adult lesson. Don’t do things that are stupid.
It took Solomon a year or two before he was ready to get back on a sled. But he did get back on. There’s something so stupid about sledding down a hill. Childish, too. Seems like that makes it worth doing.
I hope it keeps snowing outside as I finish this blog. Because I’d like an excuse to wander over to our park and take to the slopes with Solomon and Samson. We live besides something between gentle mountains or dramatic hills. So the hills at our neighborhood park are legit. Get away from screens. From emails or assignments. From this task or that task.
Slide down a hill like a child. That sounds fun.