Current Opinions: 12/11/13 (Click HERE for Archived Opinions):
Sometimes, I imagine that I love snow.
When I stand out on the glassed porch behind our bedroom at home after the sun has set, and the pink winter sky reflects off the solid white blanket on ground and roof, I imagine that I love snow.
When the Christmas lights from a neighbor's house wink in the darkness, and the world looks sterile and new, and I am warm and dry in my home instead of slogging through the slop, I imagine that I love snow.
When I drive on the day after first snowfall, and the high sun and bright sky hurt my eyes, and gray smoke roars from automotive tailpipes as they accelerate into the tundra on a holiday shopping trip, I imagine that I love snow.
When the poignant crop stubble peeks out from its white covering and reminds us of an Autumn not yet over but somehow already very far away, I imagine that I love snow.
I reflect on my life in the past, in a time when snow meant days off from school or snowball fights or hot cocoa in a warm room with glass between me and the elements, and I imagine I love snow.
I recall a childhood trip with my father to a Christmas tree farm somewhere in rural Maryland, walking along a stone path with a light snow falling in the twilight and little mountains of fluff piling on the evergreen boughs. I recall bravely asserting on the drive home that my ten- or eleven-year old self was experiencing the finest time of my life, that it was, in effect, all downhill from there, and I remember my father's knowing smile (only he knew that I was right!). During these reminiscences, I imagine that I love snow.
I think of holiday movies, and I imagine that I love snow. I think of cap guns and footballs still in the box and mood rings and new bicycles, and I imagine that I love snow. I marvel at the comity that snow engenders, of neighbor helping neighbor, of stamping one's feet and entering the warmth of a public place suffused with holiday cheer, and I imagine that I love snow
I think of giant fluffy flakes accumulating first on the grass and then on the pavement, of thick, wet, packable snow that is easily removed, plowed into long even rows along city streets, eradicated from driveways by the heavy, wet shovelful, and I imagine that I love snow.
This is the snow we romanticize. It is the snow of our dreams. It maroons us when we want to be marooned. It is wondrous, this beautiful white precipitation. It is to rain what the swan is to the ugly duckling. It makes us moon about Christmas miracles. It convinces us that we can live on love and snow. It makes us imagine that we love snow.
But the reality of snow isn't like that.
The reality of snow is several hours of sleet and freezing rain preceding a sputtering of snow that can't be removed because it is frozen fast to street and driveway and sidewalk. It maroons us when it is most inconvenient. It urges our cars into ditches and our rear ends onto the pavement. It is piles of freezing slush and patches of treacherous ice. It is ice blocks hanging from our car frames and rubbing the wheels when we make a turn. It is mopping floors daily and still not keeping up with the accumulation of grime and salt and cinder and chemical. It is permanently wet welcome mats and saturated shoes piled by the door.
The snow we imagine we love is a Currier & Ives greeting card, a gauzy notion of what we think we want in winter, and during the holidays.
But in the real world, snow sucks.
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