Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snow Business

It is only January but we have over three feet of snow out and about our environs.  It is a beautiful sight, the snow sparkling in the mid-morning sunlight.

Living out here in the Snow Belt of Massachusetts, we have been fortunate to receive our winter's blanket in the light, fluffy variety...with the exception of a thin layer of icy glaze about 18 inches down, but all in all it has been managable.  Having lived most of my life in MA, I have adapted to life in snow...snow is Nature's way of making us slow down. Really, is there no greater happiness for kids than having a snow day?  I loved school, but boy did I love snow days...a gift of a great is that?  I remember that feeling...and it is my desire to relive it as often as snow allows.

I find it funny that so many of my "neighbors"...including those beyond the cul de sac, complain when the forecast predicts snow.  I admit, I go into snow storm overdrive when the forecasters call for thunder snow and snowfall rates of one to two inches per hour...I fill up my tea kettle and a couple of large pans of water, just in case.  I find the candles and have wood stacked by th front door, again, just in case we lose power. I bake...bread or cookies...I get some cider mulling...I put soup on to simmer... And of course I go to the store to get life's essentials...milk, bread, half and half, coffee as well as pick up a few niceties like a good Cotes du Rhone, some cheese, charcuterie, a baguette and perhaps some olives...nothing like settling in front of the fireplace with the one you love and indulge in raclette, fondue or roasting weenies over the flames.

I love snow days...and even though I do not have kids at home anymore, I still like to sneak a peak at the school cancellations scrolling across the news report early in the morning.  I get some sort of satisfaction and or justification in nestling down deep in the soft blankets and stealing an extra few minutes of snuggling with my husband, after all, there is no school.   And with no kids jumping for joy into our bed, the snuggles are more precious.

I do feel for the folks who in this day and age and economy, find snow days a pain.  School closings or delays, child care woes, the ends of cleared driveways barricaded by chunks of gritty, grimy road snow thanks to the too tired plowing crews...wondering are they essential or non-essential...sometimes a tough question to ask oneself...all this clouds the gift of snowy days. 

Life around here is really quiet...the sounds of snow are so soft...they lull me into a personal quietness that I relish.  Cocooned in my home with my dog and cat...I am alone with my thoughts (my intrepid husband manuevers the snowplow like a master in order to get to work...for him, working on snow days is great...the pace changes there too...he finds that snow insulates him in the office...fewer interruptions for whatever reasons). In the quiet of a snow day, I make plans for the spring and gardening.  I worry about my family.  I write down recipes for a book I am working on.  I nag myself about my health.  I stroll down memory lane or escape into a good book.  I am pretty sure without the insistence of snow, I would gloss over these opportunities...busy with busy work and going through some sort of motions designed to connect me to the greater world. 

Growing up, my grandfather taught me to appreciate snow for another reason.  He called snow Nature's Fertilizer.  Buppa, as I called him, taught me how to be a gardener.  Gardening is more than just sticking seeds or seedlings in the ground.  Gardening is a year long connectivity to the ebb and flow of life.  Beneath the snow, building up energy to emerge are flower bulbs.  The roots of trees and bushes are blanketed by the snow, protecting them from weather extremes.  Looking carefully, I can see buds swelling on the tips of branches...the promise of prettiness within.  With so much snow, we won't have to worry about a drought this year. And back to snow being fertilizer, well, in addition to containing moisture, it contains all sorts of minerals and as the snow melts, the ground draws in the nutrients, slowly, deeply.  Snow is like a white canvas..., pretty, fresh and clean...prepping our mind's eye for the days when the sun lingers longer and we find the first tips of green poking up into the snow. makes it worth the wait.

I like to think that during this snowy period, people are building up energy and ideas, ready to burst into action in the warmer weather.  This is a good time to reorganize; to reuse, re-purpose and recyle the truck we've spent the last year setting up around ourselves.  Taking the time now, in the quiet of snow, to figure things out will help make the most of the plans and energy in reserve for spring. 

Last night I turned on the post lamps along the driveway, as I do every workday, welcoming Bill home. It had been snowing for a couple of hours, and now the flakes were soft and large. The driveway was blanketed by couple of inches and our yard was quiet...a kind of quiet you could feel as well as hear.  I was set up in my office, ironing a few shirts when movement outside caught my eye.  Entering the snow globe that was my yard were a couple of deer...dark, shadowy figures emerging into the soft glow of the post lamps...they walked gently across the driveway...the snow a sort of camouflage...and quietly, they crossed the powdery snow only to disappear like ghosts back into the woods on the other side of the yard.  I stopped what I was doing and took advantage of this gift of quiet and beauty in the snow.  I was truly happy in that moment, watching the deer.

We've all heard the saying, "When life hands you lemons...make lemonade."  Well, I'd like to add a corollary, "When it snows...make a snow day."

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