Monday, March 4, 2013

Holding my Breath

Well, I've hit a temporary road block in my writing project so I thought I'd try to get the magic word-juice flowing again by putting together a blog post update.  It was unsettling to find that I really didn't know what to write - usually words practically run out of my fingers, but this time I couldn't even think of a topic.  So what I'm doing is an unplanned, non-topical, let-it-flow type post to try to help me figure out what the hell the problem is.

Winter, such as it is in these days of a warming planet, has been particularly grueling for one who's accustomed to spending a sizable amount of time outdoors.  It's not that we've had a lot of snow, or even a little snow for a long time.  The problem is the constant freeze/thaw as the season struggles to find it's identity.

The ground took a long time to freeze this year.  Even after the first substantial snowfall the ground beneath was soft and wet.  That means no mountain biking, since the dirt was taking ruts through the snow.  And before it could freeze solid the temps climbed, the snow melted, and the mud deepened.  This has been the pattern for most of the winter.  I think I've managed to get in three or four winter mtb rides this year - which is definitely not enough.

The other side of the coin (or maybe a different facet of the same side) is that there hasn't been any real snow accumulation - once again because of the constant passing of the freeze/thaw line.  A couple of inches of snow will fall, and then the temps climb and it melts.  And then another inch or two of snow will fall, and the whole thing starts again.  So the big flush of water into the creeks that happens when eight to twelve inches of snow melts hasn't happened this season - and that means that there hasn't been enough water to bring those favorite hidden creeks up to a decent level to kayak.

To summarize: not enough cold or warm to mountain bike, and not enough snow melt to kayak.  Sucks.

We did have an interesting high water event about ten days ago.  There was a bit of snow on the ground, then the temps came up and it rained - which melted all the snow and pumped up the waterways quite a bit.  I watched the USGS water gauges climb to a potentially fun level, but didn't even consider taking a half-day off to chase water.  Why?  Because after missing out on the flu earlier in the year I'd managed to get a lovely head cold, which has now worked it's way down into a respiratory infection.  So instead of enjoying the best paddling opportunity of the winter I'm sitting around sounding like I'm breathing through a milkshake.  I've been pretty lucky lately in avoiding these respiratory issues, but this one is starting to worry me.  The first bout of antibiotics appears to have been overmatched by the petri dish of germs that is my lungs, and I'm on the verge of getting another doctor appointment to see if I can get something stronger.  The next stop is usually a stay in the hospital, and I definitely DO NOT WANT THAT.

Perhaps the reason I'm not able to write is that I'm just in a winter funk. Not able to get out and have fun (though I have been to some interesting trail work days), not feeling well, tired of the dark, not happy about turning 50, etc.  Usually my mood gets a boost at the passing of the shortest day of the year at the winter solstice, but this time it didn't seem to do the trick.  Perhaps next weekend, when daylight savings time gives me back another hour of daylight after work I'll feel better.  We'll see...

One thing I can say is that after sitting here and forcing myself to write this at least I find that the words are starting to flow a little easier.  Maybe I should just sit down with my 'writing project' and force myself to put some words down.  If it doesn't seem to be any good I can just delete it, but maybe I'll get something worth keeping.

Here's hoping things improve in the next couple of weeks.