The Winter of Our Discontent

snowWinter gets a bad rap no matter what, but it’s really taking a tongue-lashing (or, in written form, a font-lashing) this year in New England. Snow? Again? Still? Cursed be its name — and its mother’s, for that matter. So goes the predictable drumbeat of public opinion along about now.

Granted, after a dry start that stretched through December and most of January, the Old Man has arrived with little regard for the rug and furniture (just look at what he’s tracked in!). And much like the 60s (as I recall them), the winter is living up to its ancient name. That is, we are not suffering any warming spells and the rain or mixed precipitation events they have so often invoked in the past decade or two.

Nope. All snow all the time. And cold. And sometimes damned cold for good measure.

I don’t gripe so much about the shoveling and the aches and pains it brings to middle-aged bodies like mine, but I do gripe about snow days. I’ve written at length about snow days in other venues. I don’t like them. Kids do. They’re savvy enough to know that it is not a fair trade — that a real day of work sacrificed in January or February gets replaced by a joke day in June, a day when it’s all over but the shouting, a day bound to be gripped by the Scylla and Charybdis of late spring, heat and humidity.

Of course, smart districts have adopted “e-learning days,” where students are given online tasks in advance, ones they have to complete on days when snow prevents their school from opening. These days count. They also harness the true promise of technology (a promise often unkept). And although my district thinks that technology is akin to the second coming, they have not warmed to the thought of e-learning days yet.

Ah, the smell of irony — delicious no matter what the season!

But where was I? Ah, yes. Winter bashers. As popular opinion has it, only skiers like winter. The rest of us hate it. But count me as a dissenting vote on popular opinion. I like winter. Honest. I like the look of snow, the sound of snow falling (yes, it makes a sound if you listen for it), the sharp smell of cleanliness in the air. Cold I can dress for, but no amount of undressing makes one comfortable when heat waves strike. As for air conditioning, it’s expensive, bad for the environment, and bothersome to breathe.

My mantra for winter, when I’m feeling a little grumpy because my shoulder and rotator cuff are messed up by shoveling, is Robert Frost. His simple poem “Dust of Snow” says it all. If you live in a wintry world right now and can’t get to spring soon enough, repeat after me until you’ve memorized it:

“Dust of Snow” by Frost comma Robert

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree


Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.


Feeling better already? I thought so. Heck with lemonade, when the going gets rough, take lemons and make frozen sherbert.
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