Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Let it SNOW, hold the ice, please

People around here were really tired last week. Me, too. Oddly tired. I began to think it was the cold. It's hard to fight that bitter cold, day in day out, no respite. And we certainly weren't used to it. January 6th is my partner's birthday. One year, in order to have a party, we had to have tons of gravel delivered to coat the driveway, just so people could get to the house without doing headers. The ice was so pernicious. Thick and frozen and ugly. Other years, we postponed: snow.

This year, he and his best friend took a long walk in shorts and T's.

But even though most of us indulged in a little spring fever, confusing though it was, if you grew up in the northeast, or at least have lived here long enough, you become accustomed to the concept of a winter break of a day or two, forced to slow down and stay home, during a work week. Because Mother Nature gave us all a snow day.

And snow days are yin to their cold little toes. There is nothing any of us can do to override snow, SUV's and Subaru's to the contrary. At some point we have to say "The hell with it, I'm not even going to try to get out." And we settle in, enjoying the quiet that a nice snowfall brings, muting the sounds, culling the traffic herd down to a few cautious individuals. If we do manage to get out, we stay local, and don't try to do too much. We can't: no-one is around, and some places are just closed.

I, personally, was very disappointed this morning when I saw pachysandra the minute I opened my eyes. The stuff is a great ground cover, thick as kudzu, and it takes some snow to cover it. It’s outside my bedroom window and the person who sleeps next to me will sweat bullets if the window isn’t open at least fifteen inches. Seeing that green was like waking on Christmas morning and finding no presents under the tree.

The entire programming of one whole channel on TV is devoted to the weather. There is DOPPLER RADAR which can find aliens billions of light years out. These meteorologist types actually have advanced degrees. And then there’s the Farmer’s Almanac. But it’s empty promises, all of it. I am dreadfully disappointed in the lot of them. Because I needed a snow day. A lot of us did.

Instead, we got ICE. Ice is danger without the bulk. It's insidious. It hides its real menace. You can actually see the road sometimes, black and shiny. Oh, it's just wet, you think; until your brand new, aggressively treaded, expensive all-weather radials on your all-wheel drive vehicle fail to hold a curve at 11 miles an hour and you end up somewhere else than you intended. And ice isn't an actual physical obstruction like snow.

Snow has to be moved. That takes time. You get to have biscuits for breakfast, and a second cup of coffee. You get to feel like a child, bundled up, venturing out into the exciting world of a snowfall. You get to wave to other people, similarly occupied. You get to fall and laugh instead of wondering if you can reach your cell phone. "I'm snowed in," you say regretfully on the phone. You hang up and smile. "I'm SNOWED IN!" you say to yourself.

We need the respite of a snow day now and again. Life at this moment in time is just too damned fast, too pressured. Every one of us has a 'list.' These are the things we [think] we have to do. When they make a post-it as long as a roll of toilet paper, I'll have enough space for my list. Most of us make mental lists in addition to the stuff we write down. The "I'll eventually get to . . . " list. Just the existence of these lists puts pressure on us. We can't not be doing something all the time. But if you can't do anything, and it's out of your hands? You get a guilt-free mini-vacation for as long as it takes to get the streets cleared and the car dug out. And of course, you have to wait for it to stop snowing to do that.

So that's why, when it starts snowing, and the forecast is for more snow than can be removed immediately, many of us take a deep breath and sigh, enjoy the delicate crinkly sound it makes when it falls, smile at the utter beauty, let the car get buried and just plain relax.

No comments: