I opened my eyes to slivers this morning and, despite already knowing the answer, mumbled, “Did it snow?”
It’s October 13th in coastal Mid Atlantic, so no, of course it didn’t snow. I doubt it even got as cold as 50 overnight, let alone freezing, but I imagined peeking through the blinds to see a white dusting covering the lawn and fence and branches. I’m about two months ahead of myself for my locale, and I’m guessing that many of you don’t want to hear about winter just yet (wasn’t my last post about savoring fall?), but it’s what’s on my mind now that the [somewhat] chilly mornings have arrived. Maybe my imagination was influenced by pulling my winter clothes out of storage the day before, or by buying two new sweaters, or by seeing pictures of first snows elsewhere in the country, or by hearing my mom report that the first frost is supposed to happen this week at my parents’ house in New England.
For the most part, I hated winter when I was younger. Layers were bulky and accentuated my flatchestedness, so I often ditched them in favor of being cold. Dressing for the elements could take up to fifteen minutes, and Lord help you if you realized you had to pee once the snowsuit was on. The harsh wind and blowing snow burned my cheeks and made my eyes water. My lips and hands would become cracked and scaly, and it didn’t matter how many times I applied lotion or Vaseline – they would still bleed. But perhaps worst of all, after breathing the bone-dry air all night, I would wake up every morning with a devastatingly sore throat, four to five months out of the year.
On school mornings, my mom would wake me up. Judging from the numbness of my nose, I knew the bedroom air was sharp and cold, and I dreaded leaving the covers because I knew all that was waiting for me was a cold wooden floor and a cold, stiff outfit. So my mom would stick my clothes for the day under the covers with me and come back again in a few minutes to persuade me to get up once the clothes were warmed.
My pre-waking brain this morning recognized an old and unwelcome sensation – that dry, raspy, uncomfortable feeling in my throat. But before I even realized I was in pain, my first reaction was to think, It snowed. I was simultaneously convinced of this as fact and cognizant of the near impossibility that this was indeed fact, but the association was powerful.
Setting aside the many nuisances of cold weather, I’m always happy to see a thick morning frost on the ground or to wake to find that it has snowed overnight. The phrase “blanket of snow” is fitting. Most obviously, it covers. But it also brings comfort to an otherwise bland and dead season. It softens the landscape. Yes, I’ll eventually have to shovel it. It’ll turn dull and grey. I’ll have to clear off my car with a poorly made tool and start the engine twenty minutes early. But when the snow is newly spread and untouched, I feel as though I have been tucked into bed with crisp, clean sheets.