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January 21, 2013

photo(3)Snow is drifting around this morning, the kind that covers the pavement before you can see it starting to turn the tops of the tallest weeds white.

Out here in the rural, we are well into the stage of making plans with contingency plans in case we can’t get somewhere on the day. We watch the forecast, congratulate each other on getting somewhere before or long enough after snow falls, and turn on the gas logs each night for a bit of light and comfort.

Tonight I’ll be out in the wind chill advisory weather carrying my violin case; a good thing that even people like me, who resist wearing socks–let alone gloves–until the very last minute, now have gloves in the pockets of our winter coats; I have an extra-insultated parka that gets me through the winter.

The idea of a forecast is a gloomy one for the next two months. Looking ahead is a mistake. Waiting is hard, too, though, as in this poem by Karin Gottshall:


I remember, before the snow started,
thinking I wish it would start. The sky darkened

shadow on shadow. The cats, as usual,
slept through the morning. Then snow so heavy that even

my father, who was a kind of Noah—all resolve and solitude,
cabinetry and salt—couldn’t have steadied me. I remember—

and this was back when the sham fortune-teller sat
turning over cards, saying you will be lonely

thinking it could be worse. Thinking loneliness
is nothing more than a cotton slip

and uncombed hair. A path you dig in the snow
once the snow has stopped. Thinking then let it begin.

But it’s not going to begin here. There are no dramatic shadows in the sky, just dull white. There will be no heavy snow, no paths to dig. Just a rim of something frozen at the edges of everything, and three or four layers to add to the cotton slip. If hair could get combed at the end, what’s the point when collars and hoods are going to brush over any shine that ordinarily I might be inclined to muster up?

Things are beginning . . . there’s an inauguration today. Right now, though, I do not feel a part of anything beyond my whitening driveway.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. January 21, 2013 6:00 pm

    Hope you enjoy your snow, although it sounds like quite the ordeal in America. Ours is going now and was not close to as much as you’ll probably have.

    • January 22, 2013 8:31 am

      Oh, when I said tops of the weeds, I meant that this kind of dry snow that drifts around when it’s very cold sits on top of the tallest blades, not that it amounts to anything. I’ll have to get a picture; it’s not going away anytime soon.

      • January 22, 2013 3:13 pm

        Updated with a picture of a campus sidewalk from today. Yesterday’s snow has kind of settled into the cracks and around the grass.

  2. January 22, 2013 2:43 pm

    Brrrrr! You made me shiver while I read this post – and I’m in California!

    Actually, that doesn’t really mean much as we’ve been having freezing temperatures nearly every night for weeks. The frost on my neighbor’s roof looks like snow every morning, and hangs on ’till nearly noon some days. We haven’t had it as bad as the rest of the country, but yeah, cold.

    • January 22, 2013 3:14 pm

      Misery loves company, so I’m kind of glad I made you shiver.

  3. January 22, 2013 8:55 pm

    Oh I really liked that poem … and your post had a very poetic feel to it as well.

    • January 23, 2013 7:38 am

      Glad you liked it! My very soul is frozen, so perhaps that makes me sound poetic in the manner of early 20th-century poets who drank too much and complained.

  4. January 23, 2013 7:46 am

    Brrrrrrr. Today, I will be battling against the chill outside by putting pies to bake in a hot oven.
    LOVED the part “a kind of Noah—all resolve and solitude, cabinetry and salt”

    • January 23, 2013 8:44 am

      Baking pies sounds like a good remedy against the cold.
      I will be trudging around in my big parka and clunky boots, but after one such trudge I get hot tea while I have a meeting with an Art Historian.
      That is a good line about “a kind of Noah.” I’m so glad you singled it out.

  5. January 23, 2013 6:51 pm

    Oo, I love that poem. What a perfect way to describe that state of mind. I have to say that I’m feeling a bit that way myself. The first winter I was here was very cold and snowed constantly, and although last winter was mild, I have it in my head that I’m living in borrowed time before the snow starts here this year. And I wish exactly that it would start — though of course I know it’s unlikely to be the volume you’re envisioning!

    • January 23, 2013 7:37 pm

      When my kids were little and living in the north was even more of a novelty to me, we would read Virginia Lee Burton’s picture book Katy and the Big Snow. I think I am always waiting for the big snow this time of year, one that will stop everyday activities and make the relentless cold more interesting.

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