Snow – don’t you love it? That first snow of the year, filtering down out of the sky in fat, tangled flakes, catching on tree branches, fine ice stars landing on the sleeve of your jacket. So pure, so gentle, so fragile.
Late November, maybe early December, and that first heavy snow, the snow that reminds you of how sound is muffled and quieted by drifts and rills of soft white flakes.
Even the French word, “neige,” itself so soft, and the world is great and new as you set out, your footsteps the trail of original mankind, boots marking the world’s first adventure.
Well into December, and across the Atlantic provinces, the snow keeps appearing and melting, appearing and melting, and there you are, all at once, singing, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” – Christmas, or, as we like to call it, when winter takes a turn. For the worse.
January snow, the fine small flakes that bring that folk saying, “Little snow, big snow,” meaning that fine, small flakes are evidence of a blizzard to come. Snow, piling in across the driveway, snow on Monday and then Wednesday and Saturday, for good measure.
The first few snowfalls you take in stride, maybe get the skis and snowshoes out of the garage, and hey, snow shovelling’s good exercise, right?
The Harvard Medical School’s calorie charts show about 233 calories burned for every 30 minutes shoveling, and you do the whole driveway, edge to edge, the first time.
And here’s February, and you can hardly bring yourself to watch the weather on television. They’re tormenting you about Thursday night’s impending weather system, still so distant there’s no telling what fresh hell awaits, but it’s the equivalent of hearing that the Spanish Inquisition will be stopping by on Friday morning – you don’t know what they’re going to do to you, but something’s going to hurt.
And the snowblower’s caught a fallen branch and cracked off its shear pin and there aren’t any shear pins anywhere in town and the ice dam on the roof is Hooveresque in dimension. In your living room, you think you hear a clock, but no – it’s dripping water. It’s not even March.
The driveway now is a narrow canyon, there’s no place left to put the endless sky-misery, and you can only open the driver’s door if you park with the passenger side right up against the enemy. The snowblower has quit entirely, you’ve had to shove it into the garage, and you burned your arm on the muffler, right through your jacket, which now has a circular, muffler-shaped hole.
The down in your jacket sleeve puffs out through the hole, falling gently like more wretched, miserable snow.
And here comes the plow again, and won’t this nightmare ever, ever end?