Today Americans are talking about the weather as we watch the television report on an epic storm that is promising to roll in with a fury on the shores of the east coast.
Tucked safely in the middle of the country under gray skies we spent our weekend watching the snow fall outside our windows. It was the first significant dusting we’ve seen since it melted off the earth last spring, fulfilling a promise of warmer weather like it does year after year. And so here we are staring another winter right between the eyes, wondering how we’re going to fare, wondering if the snow will pile high, wondering if it will be bearable.
There are times during the cold seasons I ask myself why I didn’t chose to live in a climate that promises endless 70 degree days. There are places like this, I’ve heard about them.
A lot of people in short-sleeved-shirts play tennis and golf and watch baseball there.
I contemplate this when I’m scraping ice off the windshield or half of the muddy yard off the bottom of my boots. I think about California when I’m leaning against a strong 30 mph winds or helping to shovel a stuck 4-wheel-drive out of a snow bank in the middle of a blizzard.
Yes, there are times I wonder why I tolerate such weather, but it’s never the day the first snow comes.
Because no matter how old I get or how many season changes I’ve lived through, there is still something oddly peaceful and calming about the first flakes drifting quietly from a gray sky, finding their way to the ground and turning the landscape from brown to white.
I feel the same way every year. It was no different on Saturday when I opened my eyes and looked out the window of the bedroom to find the ground covered in white. I woke husband and we just laid there on our stomachs, heads resting on our hands as we stared out the window and watched little birds hop from branch to branch, sending the fluff flying off the brown leaves and finally down to the ground. We turned over and pulled the covers up to our chins, snuggling down against the chill in the house, the arrival of the snow suddenly making us feel less guilty about our desire to stay in bed a bit longer to recover from our 2 am arrival home that morning after my CD release party.
The gray and white weekend stretched over us like that blanket, laying heavy and soft on our bodies and welcoming us to sit close, make breakfast, drink coffee into the afternoon and keep the animals inside and at our feet.
In my life I have welcomed many first snows with this man, in different houses in various stages of our relationship. It’s a familiar feeling standing next to him in my wool socks as I press my nose to the window and he crosses his arms and leans back on his heels. We say the same things– we say it feels like Montana or Christmas. We wonder how long it will last, we talk about the chores we need to get done, we negotiate the movie we’ll watch.
We make soup.
I snap a photo, not so much a documentation, but a ritual I’ve developed at the first sign of winter, as if capturing the change in weather will make the feeling stay.
In three months I will be thoroughly chilled. In three months I will have worn out my turtle necks, lost my left mitten and all evidence of ever having seen the sun and given up on the prayer of squeezing into my skinny jeans.
And today the snow that coated the ground this weekend has warmed up and turned the once frozen dirt to mud beneath my feet.
But this weekend I spent the first snow of the year with my first love. Standing next to him in the house we’re building watching the first flakes fall it occurred to me that in so many ways waking up next to this man is like waking up to the fresh and falling snow every morning–full of promise and quiet comfort, familiarity, fresh starts and wonder.
I may tire of this snow and the way it lays heavy on the frozen earth for months, but I have not grown tired of this man laying next to me, weaving his fingers in mine. I will never tire of his coffee, the dumplings he makes for his soup or the scruff of his beard grown in after a weekend without shaving.
California might have the sun and the waves of the ocean, but it does not have the snow.
It does not have the snow or the man I love standing next to the window in his bare feet watching it fall.