Winter At My Heels

I am running from the snow.

I come from a cold town in the north, on the shores of Lake Ontario. When I was a child, snow on Halloween was a regular occurrence. In recent years winter has turned more wet and muddy than icy and snowy. What has fallen is quickly washed away by temperature swings changing snow to rain in a matter of hours. But this year threatens to be a winter of my past.

The signs are everywhere. The farmer’s almanac. The way bees are storing their honey for the winter. The snow that fell on my childhood home on November 1st.

In one of my campsite stays back in early October in West Virginia, my husband and I got to chatting with the owner. He was a lifelong West Virginian, with the accent to prove it. We asked how their winters were, tucked in the heart of the mountains. He laughed and said it varied, but they were due for a cold one this year.

A week later temperatures dropped into the 30s at night and I broke out the sleeping bags for the first time.

I ran to Virginia and the days got warmer, but the nights continued to get cooler. The sleeping bags went away but I still burrowed under extra blankets. When I reached Pigeon Forge I thought I had outrun that icy touch in the wind. A weekend of blazing sun in the 80s convinced me I was right.

Then Halloween came and temperatures plummeted by 40 degrees (Fahrenheit.) November arrived with a hard frost and I watched the early morning sun turn it to mist inch by inch across the field.

And here, on Cherokee land, up and over the Smokies in North Carolina, frost greeted me again this morning. Recent issues with the van’s water pump have me using my 6-gallon Jerrycan for my water supply. We keep it in the back for stability, and my fingers froze as I retrieved it to make coffee.

The midday sun has burned it away, but I know the cycle will repeat tonight. I am headed east to the coast as fast as these necessary repairs will allow me. To cope with the cold, I booked my Christmas campsite on the southern shores of Florida and dreamed of my white sand holiday.

I have loved the cold for most of my life. I grew up sledding and skiing, romping around with joyous stomps in freshly fallen powder. But the cold chills me of late. The iciness sinks into my bones. When I was a child, I hardly got cold. Recently it’s hard to get warm – that’s why Florida is calling to me.

I have resolved to not see a flake of snow this year, and Mother Nature is making me work to keep my promise. So goodbye to the mountains, at least until spring, and hello to the southern states.

Photos from Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee

Published by Jessica Reilly, Writer

Writer, cannabis aficionado, and poetry lover

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