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Weather Report

There's something vaguely sad about a warm snap following a blizzard. Something slightly off-putting. When there's snow on the ground, one should be uncomfortable being outside in short sleeves and no socks. And yet, it's not.

The snow seems sad. Days ago it was bright and fluffy and swirling in gale-force winds, piling up in Currier & Ives drifts any way the wind blows. It has a special affinity for vehicles -- I parked mine for ten minutes in the storm. When I returned, the front and left side glass was completely covered with snow; the rear and right side, pristine. And after the first night, the six or so inches on the ground surged to a solid foot and a half between vehicles, in that special void where the winds curl up and die, carelessly dumping their burdens where drivers will fear to tread.

Now, though, its glory days have passed on. The warm has taken its toll, and the snow piles look emaciated and almost leprous. Where they once formed fluffy blankets, time and wear have taken their toll. "Pure as the driven snow" loses its meaning when it's been driven into slush, and the blanket has become so threadbare that mud and muck are exposed.

It's not purely a visual phenomenon. The snow frantically melts off roofs, forming a steady sound of falling water -- convincing some portion of the mind that it's raining, with all the dreariness and ennui that comes with such a rain. A rain that never really mounts much drama -- it's never so strong, so dark, so windy, so fierce that it invokes our primal fear of Nature. No, it's the steady drip-drip-drip that speaks to our limbic brain, saying that the world has reached equilibrium, that it can sustain this rain for all eternity. As it is now, thus it will be for all our days.

And it's not even a refreshing rain. No, it's a bitterly cold rain that falls on you from the eaves, colder than the air -- as the water is only barely liberated from its solid state. The thermometer might tell you that it's 43.7 degrees Fahrenheit, but that droplet that just went down the back of your neck is only fractions above freezing.

And the air... the air never quite tastes right. Most of the time, when people talk about "tasting" or "smelling" the weather, they mean two things. Either they are speaking of the present, dramatic weather, or the dramatic weather to come. But in this state, there is no drama. There is no ozone in the air, warning of thunder and lightning. There isn't such great humidity in the air that speaks of hurricanes or monsoons or at least a great soaking.

This is the calm before a storm, when the storm will never come. This is the eye of a hurricane that has been gouged out of the storm.

This is March, when winter is dying and spring is making its presence felt.

But it isn't March. Winter is only playing dead, and spring may never come. There is nothing fecund about the muddy fields, only desolation. Dirty, unkempt, sloppy, barren fields. What little grass there is, is a dull yellow and brown, faded to almost white. The dull white of old bone. The dull white of death.

Come back, winter. Return. Bring your bitter cold and your piles of snow and howling winds and freezing rain. Freeze and bury the mud, the slush, the bare ground, the dead grass. You might be ready for spring, and I certainly am, but spring will not be rushed. It will not be seduced into an early arrival.

This is my discontent of the winter.

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Comments (12)

Cheer up, Jay. The Weather ... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

Cheer up, Jay. The Weather Guessers are talking about us maybe having the opportunity for another Nor'Easter on Thursday.

After all, this is, "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute, it'll change" New England.

Thawing snow brings out two... (Below threshold)
CZ:

Thawing snow brings out two environmental disasters, SNIRT and wet dog poop.

I would rather have cold an... (Below threshold)
mpw280:

I would rather have cold and snow rather than slush and slop. mpw

Keep your snow, Jay. I'll ... (Below threshold)
James H:

Keep your snow, Jay. I'll take eternal early autumn, thank you very much.

Jay Tea: "This is my dis... (Below threshold)
Justrand:

Jay Tea: "This is my discontent of the winter."

That's ok, Congress will be back in session soon...and Obama will be back on the mainland. So we'll all have LOTS of discontent!!

LOL! That was a well writte... (Below threshold)
yttik:

LOL! That was a well written piece. I'm laughing because the weather really impacts my mood, which of course, is a ridiculous thing because it's not as if the weather is going to adjust itself to accommodate me. We're I live we'll spend days with the skies heavy and pregnant with rain and and yet day after day it just doesn't come until you think you're going to go crazy waiting for it. Just flippin rain already, will ya! And sometimes it rains for 30 days straight until you start to feel as if it's always been raining and there really is no other kind of weather. I love the snow, the first hour or so. LOL, after that it's oppressive, annoying, inconvenient, but yes, it's almost worst when it starts to melt and everything becomes a muddy mess and you feel as if you'd been ripped off somehow. I think I'm the kind of person that needs to live somewhere with four predictable seasons instead of somewhere were we can have all four seasons within a week.

Someone's been in the sauce... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Someone's been in the sauce - or recovering from it!

I just got off the phone wi... (Below threshold)
clearmind:

I just got off the phone with friend in Nu Hampsha

He said that since early this morning the snow has been nearly waist high and is still falling.

The temperature is dropping below zero and the north wind is increasing.

His wife has done nothing but look through the kitchen window.

He says that if it gets much worse, he may have to let her in.


clearmind, I was reading yo... (Below threshold)

clearmind, I was reading your comment and saying "huh?" There's nowhere in NH that's like that at the moment.

Then I got to the punchline.

So much for that pizza I was enjoying...

Oh, and Garand: nothing quite so dramatic. Just stepped outside, soaked up the atmosphere, and got inspired for a bit of a creative exercise.

J.

Yes, Jay Tea, there is humo... (Below threshold)
clearmind:

Yes, Jay Tea, there is humor left in life. What? You didn't offer me any of that pizza. Having taught alpine racing at Waterville and Wildcat, I know snow and can laugh when the snow is low and we had to ski on "New England loud powder" (ice to others). Enjoy that pizza.

Be of good cheer,... (Below threshold)
irongrampa:

Be of good cheer, Jay---it will get worse.

Jay,I've observed ... (Below threshold)
thecomputerguy:

Jay,

I've observed that the human race in general is divided up into two camps: "Snow people" and "Hate Snow People". Your eloquence on the beauty of snow leads me to believe you're in the former.

It's amazing how (at a certain threshold) a few degrees cooler can change the weather from something hideous into something that creates a wonderland.




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