Midwinter’s lament

cement guy catches snowflakes on his tongue

Here in the upper South we don’t have winter so much as three months of T. S. Eliot’s April, vaccilating between cold and cold comfort. Deep self-confident winter permits acclimation, the body and soul to put on layers of fat and wool against the cruelty without, but the occasional dip from jacket weather into parka cold promotes only whining. An inch of snow and traffic tangles like unused Christmas lights; six and we huddle in our dens as if beset by flaming hailstones. The forecast of a subfreezing afternoon comes with instructions on how to dress.

Survive thirty inches of snow or thirty degrees below zero and one has at least stories to tell one’s children, photographs for the album, video worthy of YouTube. Bitter cold and blizzard might stoke the fires of hardy stoicism or join neighbors in forced cheerfulness, but here even commiseration is half-hearted; the shared experience of not bothering to own a snow shovel is as comforting as unheated soup. Our winter’s banality is its most painful aspect: We don’t, after all, have all that much to complain about, and less to teach us not to. And so we shiver and wipe our soggy feet and wait for the spring we believe to be our birthright, when we can forget this whole sorry business ever happened.

3 thoughts on “Midwinter’s lament”

  1. We still receive instructions about how to dress, with grave admonishments to avoid travel if possible. But that’s TV local news. Mostly I think we New Englanders complain only about the very first storm, and then the last straggling outbursts of snow, at the end of the season, when spring seems so close. Otherwise, we’re grimly resigned to winter. Even the old man across the street doesn’t complain about the shoveling, and insists on helping us finish off our driveway after we’ve helped finish off his. Forced cheerfulness between neighbors indeed (except for my son, who is preternaturally cheerful about everything, including working outside in the cold).

  2. Living where I do now, I can afford to be nostalgic about snow, the delight at being ‘home’ when it falls, as opposed to journeying home through it and praying to reach that destination, of dry wood and hot soup, of a full larder and hot chocolate , of children and snow men. Three solid weeks of tropical rain in what should be dry season, 69′ F and I reach for my fleece…
    As a ‘new’ agrarian, I so enjoy your blog and website, and I hope that your snow is the kind that keeps you home and indoors with all of the above and inspires words that spill effortlessly from your shovelless haven to my sunless abode.

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