Zen

February 13, 2014

Snow buried in 17" of snow.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This part of the world received 19 inches of snow last night and this morning, and then it started to rain.

Windshield wipers protruding from snow.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This left the snow with a consistency that was certainly not powder, but not nearly as wet as it could have been.  It was not sweepable and definitely required shoveling.  I have a long driveway and therefore a lot of snow to move-the only way to finish it is to start.   Thinking about that reminded me of Rick Ridgeway who wrote The Last Step, which is about the 1978 American expedition to climb K2-at 28,250 feet it is the second highest mountain in the world.  With reference to the title, Mr. Ridgeway says the last step must begin with the first.  This is a very helpful thought to keep in mind when facing any task.

It also helps to turn off the mind and settle into a rhythm.  The density of the snow allowed for a three-step process:  cut a square with the blade of the shovel, scoop the snow block (lifting, of course, with the legs and not the back-one must use proper technique), and then move it aside.  Cut, scoop, move; cut scoop move; and so on for the length of the driveway.  The repetitive movement is what brings about a sense of zen-like transcendence.  (This was periodically broken as every once in a while the snow piles would visibly settle with the telltale “womp”-this a sound mountaineers prefer to not hear as it often precedes an avalanche.)   Maintaining a narrow focus on only the next block of snow and keeping the rhythm going rather than looking up to see just how much had yet to be shoveled allowed for a sense of calm that was actually somewhat pleasant.

Reaching the end of the driveway terminated the zen-like state, and not because the task was (almost) finished.  No, the County Highway Department was also plowing the road and proceeded to block the driveway another four or five times with heavy, hard-packed, chunks of snow.  Very frustrating.  Instead of an exercise in zen it became a Sisyphean task.

There is still more snow to shovel, but it is time for a cup of tea.

As an aside, it was 63 degrees in Sochi, Russia today.

Take care.

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One Response to “Zen”


  1. Seems like there was far much snow where you live,apparently Essex in Baltimore County where i live doesn’t always seem to get as much snow as other areas in Baltimore,For example i might be going to work in Bel Air and when i get there the snow is double of the snow in Essex,do you think the nearby water body plays a role?


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