It is still February and I am already enjoying an early spring in the PNW. Cherry blossoms and daffodils have surprised me on my walks this past week. Weather weighs heavily on me—I’ve made a miscalculation in the simpler living plan schedule. Back home, family and friends are dealing with multiple feet of new snow and a melting, slushy, freezing, flooding mess. For the past nine years, I have truly appreciated Seattle’s moderate climate, with few extremes in winter and summer.
Winter in Nova Scotia can involve a snow-thaw cycle, freezing rain, ice, shoveling, hazardous driving, and power outages. I remember walking to appointments through snow higher than my knees. I remember waiting for a bus in the darkness of morning in temps below -15C. I remember the kindness of a man offering his hand to help me when I discovered I was starting to walk on the decline of a parking lot covered in ice. Before the days of WFH, I never thought “I’m not going to work today because … winter.”
That said, there is a lot I like about snow and, through my hiking and alpine scrambling experiences, I’ve got all the gear now to stay warm, dry, and safe. But at the end of a day in the mountains, I get to go home to snow-free mild temperatures.
Since making the decision to move back east, I’ve always provided a disclaimer that I might go somewhere warmer in winter. So here’s the miscalculation: my goal was to move back in October 2016—but that would give me only one month of good weather, followed by the holidays, and then I’d be in the suck. I will be living in the country with, I imagine, a higher risk of isolation once socked in by snow, not like in a city where I could walk to the local pub to join in the shared misery (I want my solitary meditation retreats to be voluntary, not forced!). So I have concerns that after ten years away, a return at the start of winter gives a higher risk of what-the-hell-was-I-thinking frustration with simpler living.
I don’t need to make a decision this minute, but I am considering tweaking the move schedule based on the seasons and my build plans for a simpler living retreat.
What IF I just say no to winter in Nova Scotia? Since paying for a two month vacation in Florida every year is not possible, I need to remind myself that there are often choices where I think there are none. Maybe it’s not all or nothing. Maybe I can live in a warmer climate for a couple months where the cost of living is low or where I have no housing expenses. Maybe I volunteer. Maybe I work. Maybe I cook at a meditation retreat. I have no control over the weather, but I do have control over where I choose to live and when. I’m past needing to prove my good-natured hardiness to myself or anyone else. The simpler living plan will include a simpler winter.
- PNW: The Pacific Northwest.
- alpine scrambling: typically off-trail and un-roped (non-technical climbing) adventure to a summit.
- WFH: working from home (thanks to the Internet!)