Maggie Wilson Author

Historical Non-Fiction in Northern Ontario

Old Habits

If we were having coffee…

What? Yes, I said, “Coffee.”


For those of you keeping track, it’s been exactly one month since I stopped drinking coffee. Evidently, temporarily.

I caved. Today I had coffee.

Oh, I tried to find satisfaction in a mug of tea.

Reeled in by the advertising copy, I purchased an assortment of ground cacao beans:

Lose weight! High in antioxidants! No caffeine, no sugar, no fat!

Which, in my case, might be true as long as I didn’t add the sweetener and milk after the fact.

Did I lose weight? HA! I repeat, HA, HA!

Where was I?

Oh, yes. If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I am shamefully out of shape. Today, the first day in I don’t how long, I got out for a walk.

Yes, I will concede that there might be a correlation between my inactivity and the readouts on the bathroom scales.

The minus double digits of the last several weeks finally moderated to a balmy -3 degrees, and in the sunshine, with the light bouncing off the snow, probably warmer. Reiner and I trudged to the post office, via the shortcut through the park.

“Only the hydro bill,” he said, and we retraced our steps.

The good news? Hydro rates have also moderated. The Ontario government no longer charges us 8% sales tax. Plus the “delivery” charge has also lowered. These changes, along with the occasional use of our wood burning stove brought our bill down by over 25%.

The bad news? Well, as we tromped through the white expanse of the park at Cobalt Lake, we could hear a backhoe on Nipissing Road ahead of us. Sure enough, a homeowner was clearing snow. About a foot of the stuff fell in the last few days.

Oh, man, I thought. I hope he hasn’t covered the access point to the short cut.

He had.

Reiner went first, breaking trail by packing down the snow so that I could follow up and over the huge wall before us.

I couldn’t make it. The snow was still too fresh, too fluffy and unconsolidated. I’d take a step and sink to my knees, to my hips. You see, I weigh (oh man, this is embarrassing to admit) a good fifty pounds more than my slim, trim ectomorph of a husband.

I considered and then promptly dismissed my options: I could crawl over the snowbank on my belly. No, beneath my dignity. I could turn around and take the hour-long alternate route. No! Get real!

Of course, by this time the backhoe operator is waiting and watching, and my embarrassment has escalated. I’m back in high school gym class, being chastised by the coach for failing to clear the high jump.

I briefly considered breaking into tears.

But, I made it over. I gave a little bow, complete with hand flourishes. I cursed under my breath, and marched the rest of the way home.

My face was red with exertion. My body was shaking for a good hour afterward.

I rested on the couch, and noodled around on my tablet. As I recovered my breath and my composure, I got a message from my neighbour.

Hey neighbor, are you ok?
Did you get stuck in the dad gum snow?

She told me that the backhoe operator was another neighbour, and he cleared the snow for homes on our road. She told me that he had just opened the pathway to the park.

I felt more than a bit sheepish for harbouring thoughts of ill-will toward the guy. Our timing was off, that’s all.

What’s that? Yes, of course you are right. I could probably benefit from getting out more.

Will I make it happen?

Well, let’s review the opening lines of this post, wherein I give in to old habits, shall we?

***   ***   ***

Inspired by my kind neighbour on Nipissing Hill. Thanks, Jane!


Screen capture from a the early 1970's as a public awareness campaign by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation to reduce the number of collisions with snowplows. This commercial features the "Polar Jet High Lift Ice Ball Special" Snow plow operator: “How she goin’ Tex?’ Tex: “Durn thing gets stuck in dad gum snow.” Click on image for the full ad.

Screen capture from an ad from the early 1970’s used as a public awareness campaign by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation to reduce the number of collisions with snowplows. This commercial features the “Polar Jet High Lift Ice Ball Special”
Snow plow operator: “How she goin’ Tex?’
Tex: “Durn thing gets stuck in the dad gum snow.”
Click on image for the full ad.


Categories: In Other News

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42 replies

  1. You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din. Will pickle my system in caffeine to the end of my days, and if faced with thick snow, would probably lie down and die in it.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I give you a lot of credit for going out for a walk when it’s that’s cold, Maggie. I know that feeling of sinking into the snow, it’s scary. I’m glad you found a way over the barrier. I’m also glad the guy opened the path 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t go out to walk until it’s back around 70 degrees. I got a few months of coffee drinking left until it gets there.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I didn’t know Canadians said, ‘dad gum;’ I thought Southerners had the lock on that phrase. That was my old boss’s favorite expression. I have come to saying ‘dang’ instead of the usual expletives that exit my mouth….

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Shoulds. I hear shoulds. Why am I hearing shoulds?? You’re perfect, period! Let it go, let it go! 🙂 If we were having coffee, I’d sing that to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. In honor of Elizabeth Warren and her diligence down this way, I will simply give you this Maggie- with all due respect for the situation you were in: “#she(you)persisted”

    Liked by 3 people

  7. You made it, and that’s what matters. A few winters ago I went up a hill to sled and oh that hill was steep! and I panicked! and I didn’t think I’d make it! but I did. That’s what matters.
    I’m not a fan of snow stomping of any kind when the air gets a certain way. I’ve never determined what it is, low temp, high moisture? or low temp, low moisture? Whichever burns my nose. I feel like I struggle to breathe and it scares me.
    I related to the married to an Ectomorph bit.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Very entertaining, Maggie. I’d stick with the coffee

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Enjoyed your story with my second cup of coffee this morning Maggie!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Skipping over the exercise and the snow, let’s go straight to the coffee. I must’ve quit the damned stuff four times before I finally managed to leave it alone. Unfortunately, there were only two amounts I could drink: too much and none, and I wasn’t sleeping well, so none did look like a good idea. I remember taking a sip once after being off it for I don’t remember how long and saying–and I swear I thought I was joking–“I’m just checking out my addiction.” Next thing I knew, I was drinking coffee again. It’s hard stuff to leave alone. But I do sleep better without it, and I’ve barely had a headache since I (finally) gave it up.


    • You are my hero. At the risk of triggering a relapse by too much discussion: did you wean yourself off caffeine completely? No cola, no tea? I’m wondering if that’s my error – trying to find a substitute – and I’m beginning to find that there is no such thing.


  11. I showed this post to my wife.

    “See,” I said, “that’s another reason why I need a backhoe.”

    “You are not getting a backhoe,” she said, “if you need one, borrow one, everyone around here has one.”

    “And yet another reason for me to get a backhoe.”

    Liked by 1 person

  12. There have been studies that say coffee is good for you, and I am certain those studies are completely true and accurate. I usually have two cups in the morning, rarely more after that although sometimes – sometimes in the evening a cup with a wee bit of irish cream is a necessity. As to walking (I initially typed waling – hmmm) I hope to start that soon again – our ice is melting off the roads, replacing itself with muck. But as soon as that muck dries up, the Shasta and I need to walk because we are both hopelessly out of shape.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Reading this post made me relive a similar experience of my own from a few years ago in Cochrane with my sister. It was a beautiful (Northern Ontario mud-and-snowbanks style) spring day and we were dressed for (Southern Ontario greening-grass-and-dry-pavement style) spring.

    We shouldn’t have taken the short cut across the football field. Yes, we encountered Mt Everest blocking our access to the road. I remember well the mixed emotions of abject humiliation (please, please, please, … don’t let anyone be watching this gong show) and believing that this was where I was going to bite the big one (please, please, please, … I hope someone calls 9-1-1).

    I had snow inside my clothes … and that’s just wrong.

    We went to Timmy’s afterwards for a coffee. Coffee makes everything better 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Welcome back to the Coffee Drinking Muggers. We missed you. 🙂


  15. Once upon a time I gave up coffee because I had this idea that I’d be healthier without it. Instead I drank tea, which I like, too. My energy level dipped, of course– but that’s now what sent me back to drinking coffee. It was the dental hygienist who immediately knew I’d switched beverages by how dingy my teeth had become in 6 months. That’s all the incentive I needed to go back to a cup of joe.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m sure the coffee will do you no harm, Maggie. Did feel for you in your plight of crossing a mountainous hill to get home. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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