I’m late with this week’s post. I wish I could say that it was because of a blizzard that took out the DSL connection, but that’s not true. I got nothin’.
Winter has been light this year. Mid-Atlantic winters, like folks, are highly unpredictable; sometimes dramatic, sometimes heavy and aggressive, sometimes light. This year, temperatures have been warmer than usual, and we’ve had few of the bitterly cold days and nights that we experienced over the past three years. The two bags of rock salt, 25 pound bag of sand, and my shovel have been tucked away in the trunk of my car for over three months. I’ve found myself using my thermal undershirts to protect my skin when I dye my hair. No one will see the brown spots. It’s an under shirt.
Last week’s ten minute snow gale was one of the strangest winter shows I’ve seen: blizzard for ten minutes, then sunshine.
“It’s too warm for it to stick,” said a woman standing next to me.
She was absolutely right. But I was caught up in the “woe is me” of bad snow memories: the D.C. winter when my toes went numb while waiting for a bus, a day that became the motivation for moving to California; my car buried in four-foot drifts–I could only find it because of the tips of the wipers black against the snow pile. Then there was the day when my tires were spinning in the ice and snow at the curb, and men walked by as I poured sand and struggled with a shovel against the wind. “How can this be?” I asked myself. They were laughing as they walked. I hope they were enjoying the snow.
I enjoyed snow once. I remember Mom making ice cream out of fresh snow; those were the days before soot covered the window sills within two hours. And I remember Daddy picking us up from school before a blizzard was in full swing. There was my 16th birthday party–my only party–when my friends got snowed in at our apartment and their parents came to pick them up. I remember watching the snow against the light of street lamps while midnight bells welcomed Christmas morning. There were some good times with snow.
But then, there is the danger of snow. On my first continental train ride from California to D.C., the train made its way through the Rockies with the cars creaking and moaning up the Colorado hills. It felt as though we were moving at 10 miles per hour, the train carefully scaling the ice-covered tracks. Inside the cars, there was total silence. We all held a collective breath as we listened to the brakes screeching against the ice and gusty winds. The cars started and stopped; started and stopped. In my car, people stared out the windows. No one read a magazine. No one drank a beer. Nobody slept.
We’d passed a field where two cows, seemingly lost, chewed slowly in the wind, kneeling and apparently unaware of the fact that they were freezing to death. They could not see the train. They were already in a place far beyond the icicles hanging from their frozen coats. As the train reached the peak and began its increasingly rapid descent, we exhaled, picked up our food and drinks, and resumed our conversations. Laughter–much too loud–accompanied the powerful collective thought– one could die in the snow.
So, it’s winter. Sometimes harsh, sometimes mild. This, thankfully, has been mild. When I lived in California, I longed for the drama of robust autumn colors and brittle winds. But, now that I’m here, I’ve been indulging in mental flailing about. And that is today’s post–a mental flailing about with snow.
Have a great week. Spring is on the horizon.