Chip Ford's 1974 Catalina 22 Restoration Project
Sail #3282  l  Marblehead, Massachusetts

Why I hate winter!

December 27, 2004

Every winter I wonder why I am here, when I know better. After living aboard the Idle Hours II during "The Great Blizzard of '78" I vowed to never spend another winter up here. For the following five years I kept true to my pledge. We cruised the Idle Hours II down the Intracoastal Waterway and spent the winter of 1979 in Marathon, Florida Keys. We brought the boat back up that spring, sold it, and I returned to Marathon. Back down there, I lived for the next four years doing my sign-painting until I became a partner in a 60'Alden schooner, the Yankee Girl, which was subsequently stolen. I returned up here, "temporarily" I told myself then, and I spent the next three years pursuing the conman/thief until I saw him locked up.

Somehow when I got back up here in 1984, I incrementally drifted into political activism, slowly migrated away from my sign-painting business, and found my life heading in a new direction. Soon it was my universe. After almost two decades, a mere two years ago this month I again was bitten by the boat bug and bought Chip Ahoy.

I still hate winter, probably even more so now when I realize how restricted my new boating-life has become, reduced to maybe if I'm lucky a half of the year at best. Yet here I remain, back to dealing with the half-year wasted, cloistered indoors biding my time, spending so much of it just moving piles of wood and  snow from one place to another endlessly like a bad dream.

I can't help myself. Every time I must bundle-up and go out there in the frigid wintry air and move snow from one place to another, waste more of my time, energy and life doing something so passing, temporary, I find me talking to myself -- and remember just why it is that I hate winter!

Click thumbnails below for a larger picture


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On the day after Christmas our local weathermen were calling for a 1-3" snowfall for the coming day. I took a look at the national weather map and thought, "no way, 6" minimum." Before dawn on Monday I went out and moved our SUVs out of the way of the plow that'd need to clear the lot between our houses. Snow flurries had just begun and sure enough, it snowed all day, all that night, and still heavily the next morning! We got over a foot! (Our lot viewed from the street, my house with Chip Ahoy alongside in the background -- Dec. 27, 2004)

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 When it stopped at around 10 am, I fired up the snowblower and headed out into the frigid cold, in the teens, to move snow from one place to another. The plow didn't arrive to clear our lot until about noon. By then I had a lot of our paths already cleared, of course only to have their entrances filled in again and needing to be shoveled out. My wood chopping block is beneath the wheelbarrow on the left; Chip Ahoy is blockaded in until the spring.

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When it snows, the clearing project starts here with uncovering the snowblower, under the lean-to and tarp that covers my auxiliary woodpile of half a cord just outside my back door. It's critical in the event that the snow's too deep to make it across the lot and over to the main racks of wood, where three cords are stacked.

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First I have to clear a path alongside the house to wheelbarrow in firewood from the main racks through the sliding glass door into the kitchen and the wood stove, then to get out to the shed where I keep the reserve 2-gallon plastic gas can for refueling the snowblower. While I'm clearing out in front of the shed, I move snow away from the bird-feeder and clear some ground to spread seed for the feathered critters.

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It's a good strategy to clear this path first, as the snowblower ran out of gas before I got past the front of the house and into the driveway. I retrieved the backup gas can, refilled the snowblower, and moved on. (On the far right-middle of this photo is a corner or the covered picnic-table and furniture.)

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Once I clear the sliding glass side-door at the front corner of the house, I can move around the side to the front door, shovel off the front steps, and head out into the lot. But the job's only just begun ... why I hate winter!

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The perimeter is complete; I've moved all kinds of snow from one place to another, have finally reached the parking lot, and can get on with moving more snow from one place to another as I work my way toward the next targets. (These photos were taken after the plow had arrived and cleared the lot. When they were done, of course, I had to shovel out each path's entrance all over again!)

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Once the plow had finished clearing the lot (thank god for the deal we have with the contractor: he plows us out each storm in exchange for parking his heavy equipment in our lot all year), we unburied our vehicles and moved them around so I could get at where they had been parked.

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My next priority is to clear a path to the woodpile, for without access it would soon get awfully cold in my wood-heated home.

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Alongside and behind the woodpile, snow has to be moved from one place to another manually, with a shovel, as wood debris will jam-up the snowblower, not to mention the maneuverability problem in such close quarters.

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With survival priorities behind me, I move on with the usual snow storm project, moving more snow from one place to another just to get us by for a little while until nature takes care of it on its own, and it melts -- or snows again. I cut a path to Barbara's back door and shovel off her back steps, then move out to the street ...

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... where I cut a path from the street to her front door, then shovel off her front porch.

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Six hours later, I'm done. Six hours of intensive labor that will have nothing to show for it come spring, or the next storm. Almost a whole workday wasted just moving snow from one place to another so we can function until nature on its own eventually wipes away all evidence, one way or another.

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At the end of the day, we can again move about -- but nothing permanent has been accomplished. The results are temporary, only until the next snow storm when it'll have to done all over again. In six hours of work on Chip Ahoy -- or just about every other endeavor -- I'd have something lasting to show for it. After these six hours I've gained nothing but being able to move about as I was able to the day before the storm, and only until the next one. Why I hate winter!

And if this isn't enough to hate winter, see last winter!

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