The jigsaw puzzle Julia and I started several days ago is a huge time sink. I avoid walking by it, as instantly a shape or color will jump out at me and I’ll be forced, egged-on by success, to sit and examine the pattern. Suddenly I realize I’ve spent 15 minutes, the task at hand – laundry, dishes, cooking, writing, whatever – is completely forgotten.
Time sinks and distractions abound in the dead of winter. I carved snow banks and groomed paths for several hours before I ran out of gas and realized I hadn’t attacked the center of the driveway, though in truth when the plow does arrive, he will have a wider track to follow. Part of the reason I ran out of gas was a trip to check the hives. Bees need to take “cleansing” flights during the winter to clean the excrement from the hive as well as remove the dead. When I wrapped them in their insulated covers, I propped a stick in front of each hive so the cover was open just enough to allow flight while minimizing the draft. The drifts had covered the entrance so I slogged through the snow that reached my knees to brush away the blockage. It is best to not bang on the hive and disturb them; they cluster together in the center keeping the brood at a toasty temperature.
As I carefully brushed away the drifts with a mitten, I looked for bodies. There don’t seem to be many this winter; a good sign or bad? Only the bees know for sure. My first year there were thousands of bodies littering the snow. Needless to say, as I brushed and thought about the bees, the snow blower coughed to a stop. Restarting required a trip to the garage for the gas can and a heroic pull on the starter.
Focused once more on the task at hand, I finished up the walkways and headed in to find dry clothes. Alice’s exit into the backyard had six inches of snow drifted against the sliding door. I have a conveniently positioned shovel there as well as a spare set of boots. It should only take five or ten minutes to carve a path for her and gain access to the heating vent in case of emergency. But, I had to walk past the puzzle…