Harry doesn’t want to live here any more.

Harry Drabik

There’s a Buddhist prayer flag on the south corner of my deck. It’s been there a while because I like the economy of having the wind do my praying. Doing so allows for much more, especially this windy winter, than I’d ever be able to manage on my own. Wind prayer, I find, is far more tolerable than listening to windy preachers. In addition wind prayer translates to less wear and tear on the long suffering knees of sincerest devotion. It’s not that I am sincere, but even a faked effort requires a deal of kneeling to appear genuine and convincing. I say this because for all we know the most ardent leader of worship may go through the motions all the while thinking of what’s for lunch or the delights of privately sacrificing a worthy virgin following the service. It is a shame to be so cynical about the divine, but those representing this Almighty or that show too frequently seen and well known abilities to be up-to-no-good in the name of He Whom they supposedly represent.  Some theologies may count me theologically wrong to reject a suicide bomb as a form of worship, but as I said, the minds of the devout can be cunningly deceptive. For physical and liturgical safety I’ll take a good old wishy-washy agnostic any day.

But now, back to wind prayer. My Buddhist flag has been praying itself to tatters, but I am frankly disappointed because no amount of prayer seems to lessen the relentlessness of this god-awful winter. There are but a few ways for winter to be its nasty best, and this one has doubled up on most of them except (MOST thankfully) ice and sleet, though it may be saving up to give us day-on-day of that before the first tulip of July will poke its pale nose from the final drift just in time to see the fireworks.

What I’m saying is there are limits. Turning the season of prettily dancing snowflakes into a demonic ballet of flesh stripping cold with too few intermissions and then only to hurl drifts at us as we struggle toward the snack bar. It is enough. I am more than satisfied with the amount of winter this far. But even as I write “it is enough” there is more a’ coming as they say, or rather as NWS speaks with marbled gaping maw. If (which seems highly conjectural at this point) there is an Easter Season at all I’m guessing the NYC Macy Parade will have Jack Frost and his close cousin Frosty Snowman featured in the steroid forms we know as huge overblown creatures that are no longer cute or song worthy at all except as dire warnings to small fry that Ol’ Jack Frost will reach out a finger and freeze off all their digit tips with a single icicle tap. (Imagine trying to tie a shoe or turn a page using knuckles. It’s ghastly; just what winter has become.)

I was long one firm in holding to the value of loving where I lived. I do. I did. But now I waver like an aspen leaf in a torrent. It is not alone that this winter drags along like Marley in rattling chains when there’s the too-fresh dire reminder of last spring crawling like an afflicted toddler finally managing to struggle upright (above 65 degrees with sunshine) until June 20, about a month off in lilac time. Hearty Northlanders are able to cope with and laugh about May being mud-month, but when muddy May straggles on in full force into the end part of June it is too much. I grow incensed about this to the extent that if there was someone responsible for these excesses I’d recommend a good thrashing to teach them. But as many of our best seasoned idiots and mal-adepts hold elected offices we cannot hold them accountable for acts of nature they’d gladly take the credit and glory for if they saw the slightest personal advantage doing so. But even the highest order of fool is wise enough not to acknowledge a  record breaking below zero bastard as fruit of their pesky loins.

Oddly, I should long ago have known the value of flight. I’d seen and (top of that) had marvelled at the annual departures of the goose honking their way happily southward. It is a sad foul thing to think I have proved myself less wise than a goose. Are real geese ever quoted? Do reporters try to catch them on the ground for exclusive interviews on the progress of migration? “How does the line look for this year’s migration?” “Do you have any advice for future migrators?” Except for its honk a goose is reliably dumb, but smarter than me who has never wandered below the Illinois and Indiana line in winter to enjoy the goose pastures of the delta or wherever it is the goose and gander goes to get away. Feeling dumber than a goose doesn’t improve when one looks up to see snow skidding by the window at twenty miles per hour as the viewer is sitting still.

And yet, if we in the hearty North look on winter as a problem there is the danger of casting our solutions in the form of geographical escapes. Do you or I really desire or relish boarding an airplane cattle car to be treated with suspicion and fed (if you’re fortunate enough) something mysterious on a plate of heavy, dense plastic? No, in more than a few respects the escape is by far more odious and tedious than staying right here to trade punches with Old Man Winter by dishing back to him good as he gives one snow shovel full at a time, which in the case of my “illegally” done deck system means the joy of shoving snow easily off the edge and enjoy a glow of code breaking delight unknown to any goose or to hose who flock with them.