Tuesday, December 23, 2008

OuterBliss: Car Freedom in Winter

A miscellaneous weed made beautiful by the ice.

Listening to: This has to be the most mulleted Christmas video of all time. (And if you can name all these people, I have a pretty good idea about your age!)

Bliss: This year, we have tried to feel more connected to Christmas by focusing more on Advent, and it has been an excellent experience, one we will continue for the years to come.

When you tell people that you've not (intentionally) had a car for seven and a half years and this conversation is taking place while the white stuff is falling and perhaps there is already a foot on the ground, they look at you, they look outside, and they look at you.

People assume that winter is the difficult season for those of use who are car free.

This could not be further from the truth. It is in winter that my steadfastness about not owning a car is never tested.

Yesterday morning, to get to work, I opted for my snow pants. It was negative five with the wind chill, and I knew this could mean frozen thighs if I wore anything but wind proof. Jeans get downright crispy in weather like this.

I left for the bus stop at five minutes to seven and so I was walking through brand new snow, not a shovel or snow plow had touched a single span of sidewalk. At the bus stop, I cleared a small walking path for myself -- I like to pace -- and this act warmed me. I did not have long to wait, but my cheeks were tingling by the time I stepped into the warm bus.

And then I sat. I day dreamed a bit. I looked out the window at the lights on the trees.

But I did not stress. I was not swearing at other drivers pulling out in front of me. I was not pumping the break to inch my way down hills.

I arrived at work invigorated by the cold air but not depleted by the dangerous driving.

So, no, winter is not the hardest season at all to not have a car: that honor would fall to summer, when you just want to pack up and go -- spontaneously -- to the beach or to a small nearby town to walk and soak in the sun.

Winter is utter joy without a car.

Without a car, I have started to explore winter more deeply than ever I would have thought myself capable.

A few years back, we even bought snow shoes, and I love them. (Make sure to get poles; poles are important for comfort and ease.)

Standing on the back porch and tightening the straps over my boots and heading through our back yard and down the alley and into the small park a block away returns me to that innocent awe about winter that we lose sometime in our teens.

You know: the excitement that school might be canceled. The impatience to get outside and burrow into those many foot deep embankments and pretend you are an Eskimo. Staying outside for so long that you come in wet. Wet! But if the sun is out, staying warm regardless. Warm enough that you dare to take your gloves off. You release snow balls from the flesh of your hands, leaving behind a red patch in the palm.

When was the last time you saw snow or cold as anything but a nuisance?


Kavindra said...

I watched that video and kept saying, can that be Bono? That looks like Sting? Is that a baby clone of Paul McCartney? Etc etc. In other words I recognized everyone, but we're all so much older now that I barely recognized anyone! I did see a few of my old outfits and hairdos flit past tho ...

I love winter now that I get out in it too. I totally agree that the best time not to drive is in the winter. (I hate arriving dripping wet and bedraggled from the heat and humidity in the summer!)

You know what they say - there's no bad weather, only bad clothing choices.

You rock for being carless. I was for a few years and now that I work where there is no public transportation to, I drive again. But I so loved my carless years.

differenceayearmakes said...

No winter here, not to speak of. The summer heat and stormy weather/ hurricanes keep me driving I'm afraid. I will say that now I'm retired and don't have to get out and on the road every day - I do have a totally different appreciation for the weather.

Lisa said...

Thank you for this post! I've been wondering lately about this aspect of your life. And now I know!

As I age, I am more affected by the cold. It takes my body longer to get used to it - especially when it first hits. But I no longer resist it.

I've adopted the Buddhist philosophy of no grasping/no resisting. I choose to live in Ohio and therefore, must live with cold and snow. And I appreciate it for what it brings.

And I am careful not to complain. Sooooo many people do that around here - and it is ridiculously unproductive and a real energy drain.

Tonight we have ice on the roads. But we deal with it as best and safely as we can - and rest in the calm assurance that no matter what happens, we will be well taken care of by a higher power.

Lisa said...

OMG!!! I just watched that video!!! Just too painful to see. Left me cringing and laughing at the same time. Calling hubby over now to watch it with me :-)

treehousejukebox said...

Yes, I would definitely rather be on foot than on snowy or icy roads! Snow is really pretty and fun - but not when you're operating a vehicle.

Jessica Dawn said...

I LOVE that song! Love the video too. It was funny to see those hair-dos. Boy were those some do's.

I love to get out in the snow and try to remember beyond all the complaining to take my children out and throw snowballs and make snow angels. Then inside for a cup of hot coco. Yummy.