Work

In physics, mechanical work is the amount of energy transferred by a force acting through a distance. Our play time at the Twah Creek Hut involved a lot of work. Food is bought and packed. New snow means a lot of trail breaking both going in uphill, and coming out downhill. Huts, firewood and outhouses need dug out. Firewood lugged upstairs, split and cajoled into turning into a flame. Boots and gloves dried and food hauled turned into food eaten. Washed down with a little wine or whiskey, it gets turned back into energy.

I’ve always preferred a working vacation. Sitting on a beach in the sun has never really appealed to me. I’d rather be rowing a boat, hiking to the great view, or earning my turns in the back country. I guess I have always enjoyed being a force acting through a distance. I am little, but always felt like I had a lot of energy. It was a nice trip. Work shared evenly between 4 people and a willing dog makes for light work all the way around.

Then, we drove home. Roads were horrendous. Mental work requires a different kind of energy, one not so tidily defined by physics. I began to contemplate all the different things I had let slide to prepare for and get out of Moscow for a 3 day reprieve. The only one I vocalized was needing to get to the grocery store. I arrived home to an empty house (Jasper was at track, and yes, they DID run outside), a hungry dog, no food in the fridge, and a kitchen with a sink full of moldy jam jars (and a nice note from the son saying sorry, he would clean it up later).

Before anything could be addressed, I had to dig out. I have a metal roof. It slides. 30 ft by 15 ft by 1 ft of snow….all gets dumped in front of my garage door. Hmm, math. That is 450 square feet of snow. Compacted, I can’t move more than about 1.5 square ft on one shovel. I have no place left to put it. The nearest place is 15 steps away in the back yard. 450 steps carrying about 15 lbs of snow per shovel load. I needed to move roughly 2 tons of snow before being able to get to the grocery store. Think I’ll cancel my morning run tomorrow.

I began to shovel, and then I began to cry. Jim and I always shared this work. If he was out playing, I would dig out. If I was out playing, he would dig out. If we were both out playing, then we worked on it together, or one of us dug while the other thought about dinner. He is gone. There is no one to share my work. I have to remember to change the furnace filters, I have to maintain the vehicles, all the yard work is mine, and if I am worried about one of the kids, there is no one to talk to about it. I have a lot of energy. I can do a lot of work. But last night was too much. I cried.

Jasper got home. He hugged me in the driveway. I don’t think I have to worry about a kid that still hugs his mom at age 16. He then grabbed the shovel. We finished together. I found eggs and potatoes. The grocery store could wait. I had to dig out again this morning, but I have the best neighbors in the universe, and it was 2/3 done before I could get out there. The roof is loaded again. As I sit here inside, I can hear it sliding. I will need to dig out again….so I can go to work.

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One Response to Work

  1. Debbie Laga says:

    Kathie,
    I am a friend of Jim’s from High School, (Outdoor School), and I learned of his death in the Idaho Education Assoc. newsletter in December. (We live in south eastern Idaho.) I found the Caring Bridge Journal when I was looking up Bud and Shirley’s phone number so I could call and tell them how sorry I was. The journal was so hard to read, but I wanted to get through it., and I am so glad that I did. It was delightful to get caught up on your family, and to remember all the things that I loved about Jim. Your writing tugs at my heartstrings….Jim is so much like my sweet husband Kelly, and I think that you are a lot like me in many ways. I will still write you a letter, but I wanted you to know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. I think that you are amazing!
    Debbie Laga

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