Winter is not a season, it's an occupation.
That 'light dusting' was followed by more snow last night. As predicted, the flakes began to fall at around five o'clock this morning, accumulating quickly and making my morning walk a bit treacherous. Finding the sidewalk was a challenge at times, although it's always fun to have yours be the first steps in a pristine blanket of snow.
By seven o'clock nearly four inches had fallen, but by midday temperatures had risen slightly and the white fluffy flakes turned to freezing rain and sleet, leaving behind sodden piles of snow that were nearly impossible to lift into a shovel without injuring a major organ or muscle.
The weather caster just announced that more snow is predicted for Sunday night. He said that New Englanders are suffering from winter fatigue. I think it's the frigid temperatures more than the snow that wears on me. It really does take a lot of energy—and an inordinate amount of outerwear—to stay warm whilst doing the simplest things: feeding the birds, walking to the bus stop, trudging the hill to buy milk.
Last Sunday it was positively balmy, in the low 50s, although by this Friday night it will be in the single digits again. That means the old furnace will be chugging away, struggling to push hot water through the radiators and keep my drafty house warm.
But this is New England, after all, and this is what it does at this time of year. I could have stayed home today but it was invigorating to be out in the heavy snow, making my way, the only person wandering down the road. There is an independent nature in northeast coastal dwellers. It doesn't mean we wouldn't rather be sitting by the fire with a hot cup of chocolate or tea. (Or better still, sitting in a verdant garden, sipping lemonade....) It just means we take what Nature throws at us, complain about it a little, and then wait for the next meteorological surprise.
And Nature gives us ways to cope with our petulant seasons, often by teasing us with glimpses of what the future holds. At the height of summer it might be a rain-laden wind storm, tossing green leaves from the trees overhead and bringing a chill to the air reminiscent of Autumn days to come. In winter it is a small green crocus leaf pushing through an ice patch, or the sight of sleeping buds on various shrubs, waiting to waken and spread their color and cheer.
I clipped an armful of forsythia branches at the height of last week's Nor'easter. It seemed like the right time to bring a little HOPE into the cottage.
I smile each time I walk through the dining room and see them... a chaotic web of branches in a pressed glass pitcher of warm water, buds growing a little plumper each day. Pretty soon the long fronds will sprout green leaves. And then one morning, without warning, I'll walk in and see butter yellow buds, bringing much-needed sunshine into the house.
And not a moment too soon.