E called me Saturday morning, to tell me about the snow.
“It’s snowing!” he said. “It’s sticking.” Winter was going to start early, we
said. White sheets of snow that blow across his window, that are heaping into
the corners of the sill, that catch in the collar of his coat, It was
flurrying, and it would be snowing, could be blizzarding any second, in his
part of the country.
I was delighted to hear it. Snow! Big white piles of fluffy
cold! That glowy pale stuff, which is pretty and falls from the sky, and is
also pretty! “You’re lucky!” I kept telling him. “How can you not love it?” I
ask him, and he does not. He does not love the snow that he is so very tired
of, every winter. He does not love the cold, he does not love the ice, the
wind, the danger of driving, of being stuck indoors. He does not, he says,
appreciate my appreciation.
I understand the frustration of being tied down by weather;
of having things grind utterly, and without any sort of permission whatsoever
from you, to an unhaltable halt; to have your plans be slapped out of your
hands. To be snowed-in: it sounds primitive and a little bit scary, all
ice-agey, trapped in the back of your smoky cavern with only the slowly
ripening smell of you and your fellow cave persons and maybe a hunk of mammoth
meat, for that authentic, totally unscientific touch.
It sounds unfairly huge and act-of-goddish, it is being
acted upon, it is being stuck with no say, and possibly with no bread or milk
or beer because of course when the very first perfectly crystalline flake wound
its way down from a threateningly grey-blanketed sky and landed with the very
tiniest of plinks on the sidewalk, the whole of the city exploded into fists of
shopping fury, tearing whole supermarkets to the ground and then sifting through
the rubble for chunks of raw cashier flesh on which to gnaw and also stop up
But still, being snowed-in also sounds romantic, peaceful,
restful, kind of perfect. I am of course imagining curling up on a couch with a
book and a mug of something hot with a splash of something warming. The
click-over of the radiator, the deep-down clatter of steam heat. Warm socks, a
big picture window. I should probably throw in a fireplace that crackles, and
some fair isle sweaters and slipper socks maybe a hand-knitted afghan. I am
probably romanticizing this just a small little bit too very much. That is
probably because it has been what, two million, billion years since I’ve seen
snow? “Pretty! Shiny!” appears to be my dominant memory, and I don’t know where it
is I got the whole Norman Rockwell thing from.
I kind of like forgetting about real snow. I am enjoying the
idea of Dream Snow, Theoretical Cotton-Candy Snow, Picturesque Imaginary Snow,
and I am far away, and I am missing it a lot.
It has been sunny here, but cold, and I am already thinking
about the winter. My birthday is coming up, and then the holidays and then it
is the end of the year and then it is the beginning of the new one and all of
those things are things I associate with winter—both the Norman Rockwell kind,
and the gloomy gray chilly and damp San Francisco kind, where it rains so hard
that the ground turns to glass under the streetlamps. A San Francisco winter is
sort of a half-lean toward the cold, a kind of sympathetic echo of the East Coast
that is never quite anything more than ghost weather, dogging the steps of the
real kind of weather you can sink your chattering teeth into.
I like the rain. Rain is also romantic. But it is does not
seem like enough, in the winter. Not serious enough. Not pretty enough, not
transforming enough. I miss that transformation that happens when it snows,
that exchange of one city for an entirely new one. If I must be wet and chilly,
I want some sort of profit from it. Icicles, branches traced out in white. A
snowball. A snowball is pure profit. And snow—snow can be a call to action.
The aftermath of a blizzard, it is snowball fights and snow angels and forts
and winter wonderland wandering. Snow is interactive.
Rain makes me gloomy, slow, quiet. It makes me shut down. I
feel like I need the rain to properly feel the way I’ve been feeling—wanting to
crank up the heat, crawl into bed and push my toes deeply into the cool tuck of
sheets at the bottom of the bed, pull the down comforter up around my chin and
listen to it crackle in that crisp, cottony kind of way. I want to tuck the
chenille throw around my knees.
I want to pile up my downy pillows in a stack behind my
head, or heap them around me so that there is down beneath me and down beside
me and down covering me up and keeping me warm. A nest is what I am looking
for, here. I want to curl up. Curl up is a good verb, a cozy and comforting
one. I want a stack of books next to me. I want to listen to the rain in the
garden and the asthmatic cat wound into the crook of my arm and the clank of
the radiator. I want to nap, and read, and nap, and sip something from a mug
while I read, in between naps. I want to order hot and sour soup, and maybe
some dumplings. This would necessarily preclude work and errands and chores and
life in general. I am feeling myself be okay with that. I am waiting for the