Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The season's first snow

For the past few years, we’ve had snow in early December. This year the snow is later to arrive – enough so that I’m actually hearing people lament its absence, and not just people under the age of 12. Even adults are eager to see some snow, it seems.

Myself, I’m on the fence. I love seasonal weather whatever the season. I like sunny warm days in May, blazing heat waves in July, dank humidity in August (really, I do!), crisp cool air in October, and blizzards in January. And I like picturesque snowfalls during the holiday season. But this year, the delay in snow hasn’t bothered me at all. In fact, I’ve found the cold dry weather of this month strangely satisfying: the chilly frozen edge of winter without the mess of snow and ice and slush.

My children say the opposite: “If it’s going to be cold, we might as well have the fun of some snow!” Tim grumbles. And intellectually I understand his argument, but somehow I’ve found something very manageable this year about the cold air without snow. No snowplows or skidding to worry about on the road; no clumps of slushy grit tracked into the house. No endless searches for the kids’ boots and hats and waterproof mittens every time they go outside: gloves are still necessary on these chilly days, but their sneakers handle the dry frozen ground just fine.

Nonetheless, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of excitement as the lightest of flurries began to sift down from the sky mid-afternoon yesterday. Just a handful of flakes, then still air again, then another handful of flakes an hour later. “Maybe I will and maybe I won’t,” the sky seemed to be saying, until dusk, when the snow began to fall more steadily.

It’s still just a moderate dusting and not a real snowstorm, and in a way, this might be the best kind of winter weather of all. A light snowfall cascading over barren fields and dry roadway: all the beauty of the fresh white flakes without the trouble of real snowdrifts and accumulation. It’s a fine way to start the season, as the Winter Solstice dawns. A fresh white covering of snow, but no talk of school cancellations. The winter is just beginning; no doubt we’ll have plenty of weather to contend with in the weeks ahead. Even those winters that supposedly set records for high temperatures and lack of precipitation have one or two good blizzards and a couple of snowdays, or at the very least delayed starts to school.

We’ll be searching for ice scrapers and parkas soon enough. For now, it’s wonderful to walk outside and feel the feathery touch of new snow, falling ever so lightly for the first time this season.

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