I’m trying to capture the snow in my mind’s eye to remember it this summer. Some days it seems impossible that the snow will ever be gone, but I know how these things work. By June, we’ll have forgotten just how high it was, just how cold it was, just how hard it was for people to get from home to work and back again. We’ll laugh ruefully that the MBTA actually closed down. For weeks. By then, we’ll be out and about, moving at our regular frantic pace, skipping around in sandals and short sleeves, wearing our sunglasses to tone down the sunshine.
I’m sure to forget, by then, that the drifts were up to my window ledges, and the snow piles flanking my driveway were 10 feet high. Winter’s uniform – boots, coat, scarf, mittens, hat – will be cleaned and put away. Coming across all that wool and wicking one fine July day will strike me as an overstatement of winter’s case. There is no way, I’ll think, that we had to put all that on just to run an errand.
Did we really get on our roofs with rakes to clear the snow? Not everyone’s home had massive icicles, surely. Were the roads ever so narrow that we had to wait to pass each other? Did Boston actually ban parking and designate streets as one way, indefinitely? It will hardly seem possible, in the sparkling days of a New England summer, when each dawn is expectant and fresh and the nights are filled with fireflies skimming on soft breezes.
By August I won’t remember what a blizzard-clearing outfit entailed. I’ll marvel that I had to wear double layers on bottom and top and hands and feet. My car cleaning broom will be buried under garden tools and rakes, and the snow blower will be moved out to the shed to make room in the garage for the lawn mower. Some kind of seasonal amnesia – something akin to childbirth amnesia – will take hold and allow me to decide it really wasn’t that bad. Couldn’t have been.
I hope I remember the wrens and sparrows gathered around the feeder, using the roof ladder as a perch and hiding in the snowdrifts. I’d like to recall the cardinal, especially, so striking against the muted landscape as he flits and pauses among the drooping branches. I’ll listen for the chickadees and recollect that they were singing even on the coldest mornings, facing the music in their way.
Like the birds who don’t migrate, we diehard New Englanders are here because of both the winter and the summer, and because of the fall and the spring. In the days when it’s miserable out, we know that it’s temporary and that we’ll be rewarded with an exquisite new season. We are here to witness all of nature: her cruelty, her beauty, and her relentless transformation. We’re here because we remember – we are harshly reminded – that we’re not in control, not of the weather or of much else. We make the best of it and forget the worst of it. We hope. We do know that the snow will melt. We just don’t know when.