The notorious Heartbreak Hill comes at the 21-mile mark in the Boston Marathon. It’s not that the hill itself is so terribly steep, it’s that runners come upon it when they are exhausted and have no reserves. There are only five miles to go in the race but forcing oneself up that last hill feels impossible.
March is Heartbreak Hill time in the Adirondacks. I drove home from chores last night in a white-out, unable to see more than fifteen feet ahead in the highway. It’s a balmy -16° F this morning. My computer is chirping to tell me that starting at 4:00 this afternoon there will be 3-5 inches of new snow and 39 mph winds. None of this is very alarming but I’m tired.
I’m tired of winter. I’m tired of jump-starting the truck every day. I’m tired of fighting frozen water hydrants. I’m tired of breaking ice out of buckets, chopping out gates, needing a hammer to open frozen barn doors and baling twine to tie them shut. I’m tired of pushing a heavy wheelbarrow across slick ice and struggling not to fall. I’m tired of wearing five layers of clothes. I’m tired of wading through snowdrifts to dig out the fences again. I am tired.
However, I know from my records that the first robins will arrive (too early, to look fluffed and miserable) exactly four weeks from today. The end is in sight.
I also know that this snow and ice and burnout are all normal. If they were not happening, if we were experiencing a warm and snowless winter like the Sierras have been this year, I would feel sick and anxious. The scary drought of 2012 is seared in my brain forever. Even while I grouse about the trials of winter, I know I must be grateful.
I just have to keep climbing the hill.