My poetic side is always enthralled by the first falling of big fat snowflakes that adhere to the landscape and change it from its late fall drab into winter splendor. Then there is the kind of snow that sparkles in the moonlight on a cool still night.
I also enjoy the snap of the woodstove while the white stuff piles up outside and insulates us in a winter cocoon.
My relationship with snow would probably be just a love relationship if it could somehow fall everywhere but on driveways and roads. It’s just that in addition to being beautiful, it’s hard work! The thing is, I love nothing more than to stick my feet into a pair of flip flops and skip out the door in a t-shirt without a second thought.
Winter changes that. There is no skipping out the door, instead there is trudging. Going outside involves socks and boots, big coats that keep you warm outside but cause you to melt when you get to your destination. It requires shoveling and walking with tiny shuffling footsteps so that you don’t slip on a patch of ice hidden beneath the fluff and break your bones. Then there is the scraping of the car windows, requiring you to leave the house far earlier than you have to on a sunny summer day.
So yes, I have a strange love-hate relationship with snow. I think we all do when we live in a place such as this though those of you who embrace winter sports like skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing probably enjoy it far more than I do.
When I wrote my upcoming book, I set it entirely in winter. It’s about overcoming hardship and I thought, when was it hardest for our ancestors than in the long days of winter? And 1933 was one of the harshest winters on record, in the middle of the depression with record cold across much of the continent and several major storms on the east coast.
When I look out my window now, I see plows whipping by, snowblowers hoisting huge snow fountains up on to growing banks and many other technologies that aid in getting us through the most difficult parts of the season.
Back then, that wasn’t quite the case. How did they clear a path to get from one house to the next or even to get to the store where their nets were or to feed livestock? Surely, the horses and sleighs struggled to carve out the first paths to anywhere. It’s certain that the people, isolated from the rest of the world, and oft times from each other, cursed the snow as it fell upon the land.
Two years ago, I was in Florida in December. I marveled at the constant 26 Celsius days and the size of the large red poinsettias that were everywhere, and sitting, of all places, outside. I wondered if we’d been sold a bill of goods on this narrative about white Christmases being the ideal. After all, it was so much easier to slip on my aforementioned flip-flops, don a sunhat and go for dinner on the dock, through the brightly lighted palms, than to tromp through knee-deep snow to scrape of the car to go see the lights around our Newfoundland and Labrador town.
But easier isn’t always better. We’ve adapted to the hardships, created ways to overcome, found a means to enjoy the white stuff. And as I sit here, surrounded by sparkling tree branches, a highly excited blue jay is dancing on the fence, turning my backyard into a winter scene that would delight anyone even if their soul isn’t particularly poetic.
This is my place, the snow is a temporary thing, (though it doesn’t feel that way when it falls in June!). It’s just one of the many things that makes it so very special, and very much mine. Merry Christmas everyone!
Carolyn R. Parsons is an author who lives in Central Newfoundland and Labrador. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org