hibernation

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There’s a lovely darkness surrounding me right now. It’s still moon and stars time as I sit comfortably and cozy, this Saturday morning needing to get ready to go nowhere in the cold and snowy world outside my windows.

I love this kind of time. It’s a time to appreciate the warmth of my home space, the other being in it, and the simple things that sustain us.

There’s something to that whole hibernation thing some of our fellow animals have going. We’re supposed to be the ones with all that brain power, but sometimes you have to wonder.

Just the other day, as I headed homeward about quarter to six, I marveled at the icy conditions and helter-skelter “rush hour” traffic. Cars were creeping and sliding along on the dangerous roadways in what was already fully night.

It occurred to me just how nuts it is. Rather than coordinate with and respect the very real difficulties of winter conditions, we just go full bore on our capitalist economy driven schedules – even to the point of imperiling life and limb. No one gives it a second thought.

Oh sure, the time will come when there is simply too much snow on the roads, and things will close down for maybe a day. For the most part, however, everyone just continues the daily grind for all the dark months of winter come hell or high water.

There is something to respect in that, I suppose: a sort of gritty determination that teaches people to have battery cables in their trunks, and decent wipers on their windshields. People adjust to simply coping with the conditions, bundling themselves up, shoveling, salting.

Almost all of those activities happen literally in darkness for so many working people, too. In order to get to work on time, they’ll get up early to do all the work of clearing their steps, sidewalks, driveways, cars. They leave extra time to make a slow drive in treacherous conditions.

The daylight hours then are spent at the toil of jobs that may or may not be meaningful for workers. As darkness falls, the exercise of combatting the elements resumes.

What if we approached the season a little differently, say, cutting back working hours during winter – acknowledging the realities of all the extra prep time for the commute and the very real dangers often experienced? What if winter working shifts were more like, I dunno, six hours, instead of eight? Imagine if corporations raised pay or offered premiums during winter to accommodate all the expense, difficulty, and danger of just showing up.

Just a thought, and I don’t really know where it goes. I know it’s crazy in our current context, but I maintain the context is not immutable.

I just can’t help wondering what a world that sought less to combat nature and more to be in sync with it would look like. I imagine that up here in the north, at any rate, during the winter that would involve slowing down, staying home more, and spending more time with family and home activities – a little hibernation, if you will.

hibernation

winterchairYes. I realize I am hibernating. It’s not exactly by choice, but it is by nature. Here in Michigan, we forge ahead every winter as if nothing’s any different. But, dammit, it’s cold and it’s dark. That’s just a fact. A good percentage of time, the roads just really shouldn’t be driven. We do it anyway. We do everything – anyway. We get up in the dark, go to work in the dark, and leave for home in the dark. I’ve really had it up to here. It’s the dark more than the cold that bothers me, but the whole cold thing cannot be ignored either.

I just checked, and they’re getting about 1.5 hours more daylight at the tip of Florida right now. Not that I’d like to move to Florida. But really.

Okay so this whole dark thing actually does have an effect on me. It makes me pull inward, and, yes, I just want to hibernate. So, I’m acknowledging it instead of trying to pretend it’s not happening. In that spirit, I spent the day nestled within the walls of my abode – packing to leave.  And it was very productive.

It’s not so much packing, as getting ready to pack up. I have to sort through my stuff and toss, donate, or prepare to take with. I made very good progress in this effort today. It’s getting less and less difficult to realize that I can part with most of the stuff I’ve been keeping around for, like, ever. And it feels great to simplify.

I have now galvanized in my determination to leave this place. If the dark winters and my own personal experience weren’t enough motivation, the Michigan legislature has sent a clear message to me that they neither value my opinion or existence, nor do they care if I or anyone else is able to get a job that can pay the bills. After their $1.7 billion gift to business, followed up nicely with Right to Work, and tax changes now taking effect, the regular working joe here in the state this year is paying more taxes and working longer and harder for less – if, indeed there is a job to be had. And if you’re a woman, they’ve spelled it out that you just don’t count, because they’ve taken away options for dominion over your own body – as if that was ever any of their business.  Education is being profitized, to what end we may all imagine. And, as for a simple little thing like the idea of a republic, the Michigan legislature made it clear during the wild ride of their lame duck session that they have nothing but utter contempt for the will of the voters. If anyone had any doubts about that, the reinstatement of the ‘tweaked’ Emergency Manager law after the voters specifically nixed it on referendum should have made that crystal clear.

So much for reinventing Michigan and bringing the economy back. It’s reinvented alright. Pure Michigan and all that. As far as I’m concerned, with this Neanderthal approach to governance, they may as well put up a dead end sign at the state line, or at least a warning for poor innocents to stay away. Certainly career-minded women anyway. Or students. Or seniors. Or just people who want a decent job and a career path.

So, I don’t mean to be all crabby about this, but there it is. I’d like to be all hopeful about it, but, you know, it is winter here. Like I mentioned.

Actually, I’m pretty happy right now despite it all. Sorting and packing is giving me some peace after a long struggle. Now that I’ve made up my mind, I’m going to try to expedite. It’s a big job, but it’s worth it. Indeed, it’s become imperative.

Oh, in other matters, had a great run yesterday with my crew. We covered about 6.5 miles, most of which was merely wet instead of out and out icy. It was a gift. The ice is back tomorrow.