It snowed last night and it is still snowing now, a light powdery snowfall. Beautiful stuff. I enjoyed the drive in.
Back in Virginia, this would have been a crippling thing. Here in Vermont it is not even a blip on the radar. As I drove in, I saw people heading out to work. I had to stop a few times for school busses, loading their charges and bustling them off to school for the day. Here at the diner where I am meeting my client, all the regulars are here.
They know how to deal with snow up in New England. In the half hour drive to Manchester, I passed half a dozen snow plows pushing aside the white stuff and sprinkling salt. People with pickups and tractors were clearing driveways. No one even blinks.
Back in Virginia, life would have shut down for this much snow in the morning. There would be a long list of cancelations on the TV stations. Here? I’ve never even looked at TV to see if an event was cancelled because of snow. They never are. In seven years here, I think they have closed the schools once. For an honest to goodness blizzard. And that was for one day.
I enjoyed the drive in. I have come to like driving in snow. It requires an awareness that is not part and parcel of normal driving. You have to be aware of the slick spots, of your traction, of how the car feels going around curves. You go slower. You leave more room between you and the next guy, more room to break. When someone approaches you from the other direction, you actually think about where you are, how much road there is for you both, how steadily the other guy is driving.
That awareness, for me, seems to bleed off to non-driving things. I notice which houses are using wood heat. I notice the furrows in the fields as the snow outlines their rows in black and white precision. I can see every branch on every tree, outlined with white snow. The few bits of color that are not covered by snow seem to pop. The cup of coffee in front of me seems more flavorful.
It isn’t of course. It’s the same coffee I get every time I am here. I am just more aware, because driving in the snow has heightened my senses, my awareness.
I like living at that level of awareness. We live too much of our life in autopilot. Even someone like me who actually works at awareness spends a lot of life letting life flow without being aware and conscious of it. It’s part of being human.
Being so aware is a little tiring. After a long drive in snow, I am beat. After working at the heightened state of awareness for a few hours, I am tired.
I wonder though, if living in that place of awareness is inherently tiring, or if, like exercise, we could live more aware, and build up a strength so that it does not tire us out, much as we can do with our bodies. And since having that kind of always-on awareness is exhilarating, much as the endorphin high is with physical exercise, could we change something fundamental in our mood and attitude if we worked at it more.
I don’t have answers. Just questions. But as I prepare to drive home, and feel my mind leaping back to that strong sense of awareness as I get ready through the snow, I can’t help but wonder.
What do you think?
Be well. Travel wisely,