I know snow. I know that the stinging kind is never good. And while the puffy flakes call out for snowshoes, snowmen and snowball tossing, it piles up.
I grew up in Buffalo and spent two decades in New England. I know how to prep and dress for blizzards, play and drive in squalls and clear a path through the aftermath of a Nor’easter. The reason I now live on the other coast derives from knowing snow, from having too much first-hand experience with it.
Last week, the flat flakes began floating down from our western skies (“It doesn’t snow here”). It started sticking (“And if it does, it’s no more than a dusting”). Weather reports launched into increasing numbers of inches on the ground and days that schools would remain closed (“If we ever get too much, we wait for it to melt”).
Once the sideways snow softened, the scene was admittedly quite lovely as giant firs donned their finest whites.
It was also unsettling. Not the actual snow. The unease I felt centered on the reality that I had no plow guy (always contracted before October 1 back east). I had nothing on hand to clear it with because part of the moving purge involved giving away the snow shovels, donating the Sorrels. Our little house sports a quarter-mile long driveway that has never seen a plow. I didn’t even have a windshield brush in my car.
Sum total of winter storm preparedness supplies: YakTrax, push broom, hot chocolate. I tried to attack the front walk with the edging tool from the garden shed (lots of hefting for very little result). Next, I opted for the leaf blower on ice chunks (don’t try that at home, or at least not until after removing the welcome mat from the area). With caution, I could’ve forged through the frozen slush ruts to the supermarket. It wasn’t that we lacked food (the hot chocolate container hadn’t been opened yet), it was that I had no tools to tame the snow.
Tame? Did I really use that word? It occurred to me that my unease was not triggered by the lack of preparedness and tools but by the lack of control, of power over the snow.
Since I couldn’t force the snow out of my way, I waited for it to melt.
And it did, inspiring this haiku:
Shovel, push, chop, heave.
Wait. Watch, listen, resist the
plow. Paths will open.
I think I know snow much better now. Or maybe it’s me that I know a little better.