I often wonder why I live in Pittsburgh in the wintertime.

Even after my ten years out west, the winters here in Pennsylvania can be more brutal to deal with. It’s not the length of the winter, since it averages about three months here versus frequently six months in Red Lodge, Montana. It’s the lack of sunshine that troubles me. In my Montana winters, I experienced one without sun. Pittsburgh, for its shiny attributes, would never be mistaken for the land of sunshine.

But here I am and sometimes on a winter day when I’ve committed to help a friend at 9:00a.m., I start shoveling at 7:30, finish at 9:30, and spend the time wondering why I let my husband continue to talk me into living here.

Five days a week I’m on the elliptical for at least thirty minutes, sometimes an hour. When I’m on a roll with life and feeling energetic, I do an hour workout—the elliptical interspersed with arms and leg weights. When the snow hits, I approach it like my weekly summer mowing: an alternative workout.

When I left Red Lodge, I left most of my heavy winter gear behind. What was I thinking? Oh yes, when I first moved to Pittsburgh, I lived in an apartment—not a house. The most snow removal I had to deal with was brushing and scraping it off my car. Now in our neighborhood, sidewalks must be cleared within 24 hours of a storm, and peer pressure means the driveway has to be flawlessly cleared as well. 

I bundle up:

My former attire (I have since re-equipped myself properly) was: Wool socks (remember my sock fetish), sweats, Dad’s old long-john shirt, Alex’s down vest—tucked inside his ski pants (he’s 6’2”; I’m 5’3”), Alex’s ancient winter coat, a wool ski cap and my Gortex hiking boots.

Quite a look, don’t you think? Of course, the college guy next door wears a t-shirt, an open jacket and his tennis shoes. Not even gloves.

I’m excited that this winter when the shoveling commences, I have new gear to don. Snow boots, new long underwear, fleece-lined leggings, snow pants, (more wool socks),A Christmas Story and my favorite topper: my first ever North Face super-duper jacket. And it’s aubergine with a bright orange inner coat. I’m almost looking forward to shoving.


Almost. Because the story goes like this:

And I shovel. And I break ice. Shovel. Break ice. Unsheathe the car from its coat of ice, climbing in and out four doors, reaching the roof. Shoveling, breaking more ice.

Are you catching the theme here?

Two hours can whiz by like twenty minutes.

Why isn’t there a Zen occurrence when I shovel the way there is when I mow? Too cold for my brain to function?

On that particular day, as my shoveling ended, the nasty weather everywhere caused my friend to cancel needing my help. 

Once upon a time, I was tired and thought I deserved a treat for my hard work. Hmmm. How about a snow angel? When was the last time that I took advantage of the thick, white snow covering the yard and created anything? Snow people? Snow balls for that matter?

We had so much snow that day, that I trudged to the top of the hill, plopped down in the front yard, spread my arms and legs back and forth just like when I was a bundled-up child sent to outside to play. “Go out and get the stink blown off you,” as Mom would say. Funny, right?

Carefully, I stood up from my snow angel and looked at what I made. I giggled. It felt good and fun and the right way to end a lot of work.

I challenge you, my grown up friends … dress warmly in your own colorful layers, throw yourself down into the fluffy white stuff, and create your own snow art.

Let me know how loud your own giggles are…


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