Glancing out the window from time to time today, and now listening to the trickle of rain off the roof outside, I am wondering, what has happened to snow? Was it all used up two winters ago, when it was piled so high you couldn’t even reach some of the sidewalks? That might be it. Is it waiting until it’s actually winter (December 22, officially)? I’ve never liked the freezing cold and I always hated sledding, the fun never quite making up for the discomfort of the snow getting inside my boots, snow pants and jacket – which always happened to me, no matter how well-tucked they were – but I would still rather see a glittering blanket of white than this soggy gray mess. I’ve been trying to remember what I liked about winter and coming up blank. The magic is gone.
Winter came early that year, covering the month of August with a cold cloak of snow. We all grumblingly dug out our winter coats and boots, warm scarves and thick socks, from their summer lodgings of out-of-the-way closets and boxes shoved into corners. The snow ploughs came out, with great difficulty, from their hibernation, so that the world could continue turning for those with places to be. Salt scattered haphazardly, resentfully across sidewalks and streets made messy coatings on tires and shoes. Snowfall ceased for days of respite, but the cold and the sight of sparkling white remained constant.
There was a certain beauty to the snow-covered blooms and bright green leaves of late summer. A perverse beauty, some said, but even the ones who thought so admitted that the glitter of frost on a dark red rose was enchanting.
Yet even the most snow-enamored of us found it rather unsettling. We had never seen August snow, let alone for the entire month. After a few weeks of speculating conversations, people stopped talking about it, instead sitting silently in cars and buses, on porches, wrapped in blankets, with hot tea, staring with interest, concern, and sometimes annoyance at the scenic wintery vistas.
September brought warmer temperatures and steady, mild rains, flooding the streets with a river of melted snow. We put away the cozy winter clothes in exchange for umbrellas, waterproof outerwear, and knee-high rubbery rain boots.
After the melting, everything looked withered and limp, with a grayish tinge of rot. Clouds consistently plugged up the sky, dulling the world that had recently been so bright. Mid-month, nothing had changed. The leaves did not fall from their branches, nor did they turn the familiar yellow, orange, and red of autumns past. Approaching October, which should have brought anticipation of beautiful colors, leaf-jumping, and (of course) Halloween, we found ourselves asking, Will the leaves ever turn? Will they fall, and make room for the new buds of spring? Or will we be trapped in a colorless world of rain, forever?
If one looked out of an elevated window, all one could see was a sea of decorated umbrellas, the only color we could muster in our dreary world.