Katy Burns: So, snow: Go!
I know there must be white snowdrops blooming by the fence along the front walk. But I can’t see the charming little bulbs that celebrate spring because they are still buried under what must be about 2 feet of the frozen white stuff that gives them their name.
Enough already with the winter and snow, Mother Nature or Goddess Earth or whoever ensures proper operation of the calendar!
If I walk near the cats’ favorite perching window, they race into the room and look beseechingly at me. “Please open it,” their trusting little feline faces beg; then they adopt an annoyed look. “Where’s spring?”
A cardinal couple shows up at the bird feeders several times a day, as if scouting the place for nest locations, if only we’d get a thaw.
People wistfully eye their golf clubs or their still-parked boats. Walkers and runners, swathed in heavy jackets and stocking caps, chug along narrowed roadsides, ready to jump into a snowbank to avoid traffic should it be necessary. Small children suffer from advanced cabin fever, as their parents can grimly attest.
Listen up, snow! It’s time to go! You too, cold.
And I – we – never, ever want to hear the words “polar vortex” again.
The white blanket out there is beginning to look permanent. And it’s too bright. The whiteness is fine, even fun, in December and January, when it is seen by the light of the low winter sun. But that sun is now higher in the sky – and brighter. We nearly need sunglasses in our multi-windowed sunroom. And any trip outside into the blinding glare absolutely demands serious eye protection.
It’s not that the snow doesn’t have its place in the annual cycle. For those who sled, ski, snowmobile or snowboard – or just stroll, leisurely, taking in the sights and sounds – it’s pretty nice. For a while. And looking at a soothing blanket of white sure as heck beats gazing at the bleak, brown landscape of a snowless winter. We’ve seen a few too many of those in recent years.
The snow is a real asset during the winter holidays. Having spent a few youthful years in a southern California beach town, I can assure you that a crèche surrounded by ornamental cacti or a palm tree festooned with red bows is just plain wrong.
So what if the original crèche was in Bethlehem, where it was unlikely to have been built near a nice Balsam fir. We in this country have been culturally conditioned to insist on a Currier-and-Ives holiday, complete with mounds of snow, carolers in fur-lined coats, and cozy fireplaces draped with glittering garlands.
And quite apart from its role as Christmas décor, we need snow to ensure we have four proper seasons. We need our seasons (and here in New England even a fifth season, mud) because otherwise life wouldn’t be nearly stimulating enough. I quickly learned in my southern California sojourn that day after day of balmy weather, punctuated by the occasional wildfire or a torrential rain and ensuing mudslide, can be stiflingly boring.
No seasons? No lovely spring with unfurling fiddleheads and budding pussy willows and forsythia? With perennials again miraculously pushing their way through the soil?
And how can you have a proper harvest time in the fall if you essentially can harvest stuff 365 days a year?
Changing seasons keep our minds sharp. How do we ensure enough food to last the winter? How do we keep warm through those long, cold months? We have to keep our wits together to figure it all out, to survive. In warmer climes, there is no challenge.
It is worth noting that modern air conditioning – which finally brought the South out of its general heat-induced torpor – was invented in New York State, not Alabama.
So, yes, let us all praise seasons. But while we do, we should also note a key thing about seasons. They should end, each giving way to the next one. And this winter and its snow aren’t playing the game properly. This is unacceptable. But I guess that’s weather.
One of the paradoxes we confront these days is that – even as the world warms – our day-to-day weather continues to confound, ever contradictory and unpredictable. Some even say our changing climate ensures greater unpredictability.
While we in New England and much of the eastern United States were enduring record-setting cold and mountains of snow, historical drought conditions devastated our western states, and Alaskans basked in a record heat wave. Torrential floods put a large chunk of England under water while drought hit other parts of Europe, and Australia suffered searing heat and drought. And so goes weather, worldwide.
But it’s time the most recalcitrant weather gods have mercy on the good citizens of the Granite State and their neighbors.
It is so bad that even our nation’s northern ballparks face baseball’s opening days with frozen turf. The field in the Chicago stadium where the White Sox play is frozen to a depth of 31 inches, and groundskeepers are using industrial-size tarps and huge portable dryers to thaw it before the first pitch is thrown.
Hmm. I think I’m going to grab our trusty hair dryer and go looking for those snowdrops.
(“Monitor” columnist Katy Burns lives in Bow.)