Monday, February 22, 2010

Seasons of Snow and Rain

It's funny, the circles life makes. At exactly this time last year, I was longing for snow. I remember that feeling, how I watched the weather forecast and the sky, hoping.

This winter, without hoping, without bone-deep longing, snow fell all over the place. Our first snow came before Christmas. A most inconvenient time, it didn't even slow us down. We still had shopping to do, parties to plan and attend. That snow came and went with just a whisper of its passing left on my psyche.

It snowed again. That time, I got out, left my house and walked amid the scent and silence of freshly fallen snow. I loved it.

Since then, I've been trying to figure out why.

Last winter, we slipped off the barest minimum of ice and hit a tree head-on. In the wake of that event, I had whiplash—which I still deal with—and a biting fear of slick and icy roads. Anytime our vehicle seemed to skid sideways, my hands gripped the seat, my heart began to pound.

This winter, I have experienced a lot of seat-gripping, heart-pounding while riding and driving. This winter, we’ve had more snow that I can ever recall. I’ve been forced to traverse roads once determined impassable. I've driven on ice, snow, and inches of deep slush. I've slipped over road-ways to get to the store, to work, and to the gas station for fuel for the generator. I've shoveled, pushed and prayed more than one vehicle out onto the roads then shook in my boots to drive on them.

For a while, anyway.

Desensitization does appear to be a genuine and effective way of overcoming one’s fear. As the days wore on and the snow became a permanent VA fixture, I got used to the terror of driving. I got so now I don’t even blink at an icy patch, don’t even flinch if I slip-skid off to the left or veer completely side-ways. I’ve adjusted to my new, snowy landscape and Eskimo style of living.

You may imagine, then—as the old saying goes—the familiarity of the snow would breed contempt, that I like nearly everyone I know would grow tired of sloshing through snow drifts and dealing with all those unpleasant side-effects of this weather: no electricity, no phone, every day a long hike up a steep drive. You would imagine these would mar or at least somewhat diminish my affection for snow.

I remain enamored, delightfully enchanted whenever it begins to fall. I wrap up in running pants, under armor, long sleeved knitted shirt, wool socks pulled over my pants, carhart overalls, a long-sleeved wool top, my coat, my hat, then my boots and out I go into the crisp, cold air. I breathe deeply, drinking it in and stand amazed by the fairy world I behold. I can't help that my eyes love to look on a snow-coated landscape. I can’t help that my lungs love to breathe cold air. Every single thing about snow makes me happy: crystallized tree-tops, the crunch of my boots in the diamond strewn fields, the stillness with just the occasional bird chirping and flitting from limb to limb, the dark of the trees, stark against this white backdrop, the contrast of color, the bright scent of pine, and the rattling of frozen things clanking together, the impossible brightness of the sunlight reflected. I feel alive when I’m out there. My heart hums to this landscape and I spin and let the snowflakes fall, cold kisses on my unturned face.

No matter the hardships—this year there were plenty—no matter the early terror of driving or the lingering environmental burden brought on by this weather, I have found, as much as I ever did before, that I completely love the snow.

Today, with the pitter-pattering of rain, that early herald of Spring, the snow I love, that I once prayed and longed for, washes all away.

That is way of the seasons: nothing remains forever, no matter how much we may love it, everything goes when it’s time.