The Breaking Point

By , January 23, 2014

There’s an odd moment that comes several times each winter to the “homestead.” Truthfully, it often comes in the late autumn and early spring as well. It’s a breaking point.

This breaking point is the moment in any of the thaws in our winter weather’s frequent freeze/thaw cycles when one stops choosing ones steps to avoid walking on ice, and begins choosing ones steps to purposefully walk on ice.

The path to the shed. I have to play hopscotch to break more ice here (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

The path to the shed. I have to play hopscotch to break more ice here (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

As I’ve mentioned before, the paths we commonly use around the compound compact and freeze in the thaws, making for desperately dangerous footing. At those times, unless we take time to put on grippers (see Getting Where We Need to Go) we have to walk with extreme care to avoid slipping and/or falling.

Obviously, the sooner ice disappears from these paths, the better. As each thaw develops and advances, there comes that point where we recover from the slick paths, avoiding them by seeking out footsteps in thawed, bare patches, and begin to purposefully break up, wear down, and otherwise degrade the remaining ice.

There’s a moment of pure pleasure when, walking on an ice-sheeted path, we hear that hollow crack that means that thawed run off has hollowed the sheet from underneath, weakening it to the breaking point. At that moment the tide turns, the oppressed becomes the oppressor. I gleefully stomp my way along the path, pulverizing any remaining ice into smaller, more easily melted chunks. Once the path melts free of ice, I begin to meander along it, going out of my way to crush the ice on either side of the path.

It’s little more than a childish act of revenge, but it improves the footing in the compound, and it does wonders for one’s outlook!

Currently, we’re in the midst of a serious thaw. Our January weather feels more like April. Heck, it’s better than some Mays we’ve seen here. I’ve been hacking away at the ice in the yard like a school boy stomping ice in puddles. I know full well that this pleasure is restricted to the dooryard. A few yards up the hill, it still looks and acts like winter. Snow lies deep around the trail, which the ice still holds fast. It’s a futile gesture at best.

But, it feels really good!

4 Responses to “The Breaking Point”

  1. Linn Hartman says:

    Ice is the killer here – A lot of trips to the ER and fender benders a couple weeks ago-My grippers set on the shelf in the closet until this year – Thank you sister-in-law-Luckily the past couple of artic blast we only got the cold- 3.2 deg here at 4 AM and clear as a bell-doubt we will remember in August when its pushing 200

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Meanwhile, we’re having April/May temperatures. Things are way off kilter this winter.

  3. Linn Hartman says:

    When the weather is cold and your setting around inside it gives your mind a chance to roam – don’t know if that is good or not – been following your brother Dave’s blog as he designs his new boat-he mentions growing old often and the considerations their making to accommodate aging – I am 72 and designing a Trilo style 20 footer and cruising rowboat along with other things to keep the dream going – None of it may happen but keeps me going – I just wondered what you see in the long term – looks like you are enjoying life but do you think you will take another tack someday – none of my business – just thought I would ask – enjoy

  4. Mark Zeiger says:

    Linn, in one of my “former lives” I worked for the Alaska Commission on Aging. I wrote a monthly newsletter for seniors, and many of the articles focused on aging in place, and all the aspects of life that need to be considered to do that.

    Our intent is to stay here for the rest of our lives. We know full well that to do that, we need to stay active, flexible, and lucky. Any sort of physical/medical problems would shut this lifestyle down for us should they grow too severe. We think about it a lot, try to make sure we’ll keep accessibility in mind as we build or remodel, but mostly, we hope for the best.

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