Winter Is Coming?

What a miserable snowfall tally we witnessed this winter! It’s hard to fully comprehend just how pathetic it’s been. All those meteorologists and local tv news reporters, desperately watching the maps, comparing different snowfall models to predict future storms, and all of it for naught.
It’s so sad to lose a cornerstone environmental marker, a regular life event that defined not just the season but also an attitude about life in New England. Whenever it snowed, everything had to change. School was canceled, offices were closed, and plans were scuttled. We were all forced to look out the window, chill out, and enjoy the stunning sight of snow cover. Time slowed down, and so did we.
With snowfall would always come the skis and the sleds and the skates. And then, of course, the hot chocolate, the hot toddies, and tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches. What memories…
Certainly, snowstorms are not without peril and aggravation. Getting stuck in a storm on the road struggling to get home was always a frightening, exhausting experience. The relief of finally getting home, off the road, and pulling into the driveway was deep and gratifying.
And getting kids ready to go outside, stuffing them into snowsuits like making sausage, finding hats and gloves and scarves… not a lot of fun. But once the kids got outside, it was often a dream time. The requisite snowman, the attempt at a fort, and the snowball fight that would last until the youngest participant got smacked in the face with an icy mass are all templates of wintertime bliss. Even coming back into the house and stripping off the wet snow gear was beautiful! Chapped cheeks glowing, the warmth returning to fingers and toes: these are just a few of the joys of the snow.
I would be remiss were I to leave out the dissenting votes on wintertime snowfall. My mother hated the snow. She would no doubt be celebrating this climate change twist if she were alive today. But not me.
It is deeply problematic to witness the inexorable destructive power of climate change. The chickens have come home to roost. I have lost the snow.
I don’t know what the next winters of my life will look like, how cold it will get, what my garden will do. But I will do as Jews have always done: adapt. I will also lean into memories of another time, of deep snow, puffer coats, and boots. Since my heart surgeries, I don’t shovel snow anymore or use my snowblower. But I will recall the unique sense of accomplishment of a cleared driveway and sidewalks clean and salted. And I will, with irony, utter the words from Game of Thrones: “Winter is coming.” I am still determining what it will look like, but arrive it will. I will engage in the Jewish practice of remembering what was and engaging in what is.

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