winterize

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
drafts.

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
winter.

  7 comments for “winterize

  1. spacedcowgirl
    October 8, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    If you’re still considering pulling up stakes and making another move, how about Minneapolis? I post this entirely out of the wish to live vicariously through you. There are 4 seasons there, and snow, and for someone who doesn’t need 12 months of constant warm weather to be happy, I think it would be great. Full disclosure: I live in Michigan (where I grew up) and I love it here (including the snow). It is theoretically perfect that my husband, who has a very specialized job, was able through a great stroke of luck to get a position here so we could move back home after grad school instead of to Texas or… Texas. (I love him and have every intention of keeping my marriage vows, but I’m so glad they weren’t tested by having to consider moving to Texas. Nothing could be more foreign to my nature than living in Texas.) But part of me still wishes that he could have gotten a job at 3M or the University of Minnesota or somewhere because I think Minneapolis is even more “me” than my own home state. My dad was raised in Upper Michigan and the north is in my blood. I loved it in Minneapolis when I visited there.

    Um, that is why I think *you* should move to Minneapolis, so I can follow all of your adventures in a lovely city with a great climate, and pretend it’s me. :) And now your descriptions have made me want winter to come right now. You know, moreso than I already did.

  2. anon
    October 8, 2007 at 10:10 pm

    Where does E live that he is getting snow???? I live in NY an it’s October 8 and I should be shuffling through crimson leaves and dreaming of the first snowfall just around the corner.

    Alas, no.

    Today it hit 90 degrees. To every goddamn Republican who says global warming is a myth, please come to NY and we’ll sit together in our sexy pools of sweat and crack open an ice cold one and talk about just how spectacularly we have broken our planet.

    I love your description of snow and winter. So beautifully evocative, so poetic. I feel the same way. I have created the same fairy tale around the romantic first snowfall, and I wait for it every year like a little kid.

    And I do love it, living here with the seasons, despite the humid summers and the cold slushy winters.

    But after the first snowfall or two, I’m pretty much over it. It works for me until right around the end of the Christmas season, and then the hearth-filled visions of white flurry-filled days give way to the endless greyness of raw January days, at which point I start longing for spring.

    But right now, I’ll just take fall. Please, someone, give me fall. Because I have my &^%$# air conditioner on tonight, and there is just something so very, very wrong about air conditioners in October.

  3. October 9, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    I live in Minnesota, in the Minneapolis area, and it’s not snowing here but it is snowing up in northern Minnesota. I grew up here and I love the snow! Love it! Oh sure, the snow and the cold get a little boring but there’s something about winter that gets the metabolism all fired up!

    Nice to meet you, by the way!

  4. Amy
    October 9, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    I live in central Alabama. I have seen snow–real snow–maybe two or three times in my nearly 25 years of life. My romanticized ideas of snow are the same Norman Rockwell ones you describe here.

    When is your birthday? Mine is this Friday. And it seems like the rest of the year just flies right on by once my birthday gets here. Then, before I know it, I’m back here again.

  5. October 9, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    Good heavens, woman. Take a trip to lovely Canadaland sometime, specifically Edmonton, Alberta. Your romanticized idea of soft fluffy flakes will die sometime around the same time as your car batteries, toes, and will to live after about six feet of the stuff falls on you. (Probably over lunch.) Snow is lovely to look at and a bugger to drive through up here – plus, when people shovel it, they die. I still like it better than rain, though. Rain gets you wet and cold. Snow lets you stay dry and cold. Plus, pretty!

  6. Cat
    October 10, 2007 at 7:11 am

    “The ground turns to glass under the streetlamps”–that is SO pretty. Thanks for the image.

    Cat

  7. Redlilocks
    October 10, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    “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.”

    That, my lovely, describes London weather as well. And just reading it, despite my insistence that I do not miss the snow, no I do not miss the shoveling and the getting stuck in with no milk and the scraping of the windscreen of my car at 7 in the morning… it’s that cozy curling up when the snow is falling outside that I miss. What an amazingly written little gem you’ve posted…

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