As the snow continues to fall and freeze and swirl around outside, I can’t help but feel as though I’m inside a snow globe or, rather, a wintery hourglass. This deep into winter, …
As the snow continues to fall and freeze and swirl around outside, I can’t help but feel as though I’m inside a snow globe or, rather, a wintery hourglass. This deep into winter, it’s very easy to lose track of time—how long it has been since the fair weather departed and how long it may be before it returns. Stranded in this bleak midwinter, we tend to busy ourselves with preparing for the year ahead, recommitting to the goals we set each year: buckling down, cleaning the house and focusing on work and sustenance overall.
Most view winter as a dull time to complete otherwise listless tasks that allow them to take better advantage of fun seasons when the weather and daylight hours facilitate more jovial and blithesome hobbies. The time, however, is still there, despite the early setting of the sun, which has left us in darkness by the time we return from our nine-to-fives. Many escape the swirling bitterness outside by locking themselves into their homes, burying deep into their couch to watch TV, or by preparing a piping-hot dinner to combat the cold from their commute. Thoughts of going out to see others, especially now in this time of social distancing, are often a non-starter to even approach in conversation. But interestingly, when presented with other options, we claim not to have the time. “Who has time for that?” is often the destroyer of new hobbies that are presented in the wintertime.
Lately, I’ve been spending my evenings in the shed by the warmth of my small wood stove catching up with a handful of responsibilities and hobbies. I’ve been cleaning up and organizing to make more room, as building supplies have quickly overtaken my workspace. And with the trapping season suddenly here, I’ve even had the sudden influx of furs to skin and stretch.
As I moved wearily to the rear of my dimly lit space to hang up a fresh coyote pelt, I thought to myself what I might be doing otherwise. My fire crackled low, in need of another small log. I promptly fed it, taking the time to thaw my hands just above the open cast-iron door. Returning to clean up after the animal I had finished, I thought about how I could be inside where it was warm. Lying in bed, trying to sleep, possibly scrolling through the channels on TV and not accomplishing anything. I could be comfortable, I pondered as I hung my gambrel back on its hook and gathered my trimmings in the trash. As I worked, it was warm enough that I was able to take my jacket off but leave my wool hat on. I briefly checked the nick on my hand from where I had slipped with the knife earlier that evening. Comfortable doesn’t build character, I thought, surmising that the cut wasn’t of any significant concern. Having cleaned the area in front of my fire, I sat down to enjoy it for a moment before going back inside. This didn’t cost me anything. Time was the only true currency exchanged on this cold night. Comfort could be considered a cost as well, but from past experience, comfort is just a standard of measurement. The more comfortable you try to make yourself, the less content you will be with the fruits of that pursuit. As I sat on a broken wooden chair, chilled from its constant exposure to the freezing temperatures in my shed, I felt comfortable.
The way out here, comfort is relative. A long day’s work makes even a simple bed or couch far more comfortable than it otherwise would have been. And, although it doesn’t feel like it, time continues on at the same pace it does in the summer. We all pay out to time but we choose how to spend it. We’re rewarded by our ability to budget it. For me, I have a clean shed and another fur to sell. Beyond that, I have the peace that can only be found in the quiet of your shed, warmed not only by the heat of the fire but also by the heat of your work.