As you might have assumed, I found no duckling orders tucked away in stockings, nor underneath the Christmas tree. I did have a lovely Christmas Eve and Christmas surrounded by family and thoughtful gifts, and I hope your holidays (whatever they may be) were just as lovely.
My winter break is drawing to a close, but I am still clinging to the lazy days by the pellet stove, wrapped in my shawl and buried in a book. I’m not ready to give those up quite yet. Unfortunately, my days have an ugly aspect of anxiety to them- my “Driver’s Test” in in just one week, and I do not feel prepared at all. I have had my “Learner’s Permit” since late May, but my parents didn’t actually take me out driving until Fall (much to my frustration). They have been through it once with my sister, where they forced her to drive everywhere, but when I ask to drive they show such discouraging reluctance.
Practice makes perfect. No practice… let’s just say it’s pretty scary to be on the road with me. When I drive, my knuckles are white from gripping the steering wheel so hard, my breathing gets fast, and my mind floats to all the accidents that could happen. I am, quite simply, terrified. And don’t even get me started on parallel parking. It’s a miracle that I haven’t totaled any other vehicles yet.
Naturally, I’m not expecting to pass my Driving Test. Yes, I’ve had at least twelve hours of “behind-the-wheel” instruction, six hours of “observation”, and forty hours of classroom instruction on the rules of the road, but none of those things have even remotely eased the terror that I face when I think of the test. If I don’t pass, it’s not the end of the world for me. I’ll have to rely on my parents for another month, that’s all. No, it’s the ridicule that I’ll face at school that bothers me. To be blunt, I’m afraid of being judged by my peers for failing at something that comes easy to them.
I had planned to be silent about when I was taking the test, an obvious solution. Except we all went to the same driving school, and the driving test is always the second Saturday of every month. So it’s pretty easy to tell when I’m taking it, since I finished my “driving times” in early December.
I know I should be grateful for the opportunity to drive, and that this is an obvious “first-world problem”. But the anxiety that comes with it feels so debilitating at times. It is a constant pressure on my chest and gut, only made worse by the Seasonal Affective Disorder that accompanies winter.
I didn’t really plan to write about this, my fingers just went to those keys. What I was really going to tell you is that my Three Little Hens are doing great so far this winter. We had our first snow two days ago, and they were mildly annoyed at not being allowed out into the yard. Hopefully it will thaw a bit today so I can scrape the ice out of their larger run.
When I feel anxious, I always seek the comfort of nature. Nothing seems as worrisome among the trees and songbirds. Not to mention I’ve been reading an inspiring book called Grandma Gatewood’s Walk, a true story of a 67 year old woman who hiked the entire Appalachian Trail (all 2,168 miles of it). It is the kind of story that makes me want to take a walk in the woods.
When I set out yesterday, I just had my hiking books and a jacket. I walked up to a nearby trail, traversed the icy parking lot, and landed on…more ice. I saw two branches leaning against a tree trunk, so I reached over and grabbed them, and unwisely proceeded into the mountainous iceskating rink. Using the branches as ski poles, and the heels of my shoes as ice picks, I continued onward up the slope, until the slipping got a little too frightening and I sat down to think. Deer tracks wandered down into the woods, perfectly preserved in the ice. Birds resumed their singing. It was serene. Unwilling, however, to continue my precarious trek I returned to the road and walked home, my bottom completely soaked but my mind finally quieted.
Happy New Years, everyone!