“A cold wind was blowing from the north,
and it made the trees rustle like living things.”
(George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones)
“The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?”
“A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.”
Anticipation. It is in the air as the National Weather Service has forecast a winter storm warning for most of Montana for the next two days as an arctic front from Canada makes its way south bring snow, ice, wind, and sub-zero temperatures to Big Sky country. The predictions are for up to eight inches of snow with temperatures and wind chills below zero . . . it is going to be cold! Who blames the arctic front for not wanting to head south and a warmer climate? I just wish it would take a different route on the way to Arizona or Texas or wherever it is heading for the winter.
It is kind of apocalyptic in how people approach the first snow storm of the year . . . end of the world stuff. There is a rush to the local grocery store to stock up on the necessary staples of survival . . . lots of milk, bread, and beer. It seems that the consumption of these staples goes up when a winter storm is in the area. The sales of snow shovels and snow blowers will peak and shortages will be declared . . . it is as if people forget that winter comes every year to Montana . . . every year! They batten down the house . . . close the storm windows . . . replace the filters in the furnace . . . pull out all the quilts and comforters . . . search for their long underwear . . . and hope that they remembered to pay the utility bill. Life as everyone knows it is about to change . . . nothing will ever be the same . . . the end is near. The end of autumn, that is. For some folks this is the saddest and most depressing annual transition of the year . . . from autumn to winter.
It is apocalyptic in that its coming is prophesized daily in the newspaper . . . it is stated by the talking prophets—I mean forecasters—on the radio and television . . . and, it is felt in the bones of the Mr. Smith down the street who swears by his arthritis that the cold and snow is coming. In the prophecies that are shared they start out with caution and build to apocalyptic warnings that the end is near . . . the prophets—the forecasters—have fine-tuned the anticipation . . . the frenzy waits for the first snowflake to tip the scale and upset the balance.
I’m lousy when it comes to anticipation. I am one of those who embrace the apocalyptic vision of the local forecasters as they preach the gloom and doom of approaching winter storms. I am one of those who sees the worst whenever there is mention of freezing temperatures, snow, and ice in the evening forecast. I am a winter wimp. My winter wimp reputation is famous among family and friends . . . the source of much ribbing between November and late March. The first word of wintry weather and my mind slides into anxiousness . . . slides into the world of winter wimpdom . . . slides into a fear of having to get out into the weather . . . the snowy, icy weather. I’d rather go to the dentist for a root canal than brave the winter weather when it has reached it apocalyptic proportions.
Confession is good for the soul. I confess that I have not yet mastered driving on snow and ice at 90 miles per hour . . . at least not without six inch studs and snow chains on my tires. I have not yet learned how to appreciate scraping my windshield and windows in a blinding snow storm only to have to turn around and do it again before I have even finished. I have not yet learned how not to panic when a semi-truck passing by spewing snow and ice and rocks because it cannot appreciate my cautious driving at 25 miles per hour. I have not come to appreciate my car’s tired freezing to the pavement. I have not come to appreciate making a right-hand turn only to end up making a left-hand turn across two lanes of traffic because there is ice on the road. I have come to appreciate seeing my breath inside my car despite having the heater set on high and blasting away . . . it is no fun having to scrape the inside of the windshield. I have come to appreciate the windshield cracking when the warm air from the car’s heater hits the glass activating every window pit into the Etch-a-Sketch mode. I have not come to appreciate how the wintry weather makes my heart race . . . makes my blood pressure rise . . . and, makes me grumpy. Yeah, confession is good for the soul, but the longer I think about it the more anxious it makes me.
I guess I should be appreciative of these apocalyptic weather events. I have learned to be more colorful in my language to describe other drivers and the weather . . . if four-letter descriptive words count. My sign language has gotten better. I have learned how to walk with sixteen layers of clothes encasing my body . . . I have the perfect mummy walk during the winter.
The fact is . . . that the truth about the weather, at least the weather forecast . . . is always between here and there. It rarely comes out exactly the way that the prophets, I mean forecasters, prophesize it . . . no, it is usually better or worse. But, it is all a matter of perspective and my perspective is lousy . . . you see an inch of snow, I see a foot. You see wet roads, I see two-inch thick ice coating the road. As I stated, I have embrace the apocalyptic spirit of winter . . . the end is near . . . the snow is coming.
But, I could appreciate winter if we would all just relax and enjoy it. Instead of rushing out to get from here to there, we should do what it is intended to do . . . stay home, drink hot chocolate with Schnapps, while reading a good book or listening to some great music or watching a classic movie. My mother always thought of winter as the season of slowing down, regrouping, and contemplating life . . . as a time of respite. She was a wise woman. When I have the ability to stay home and stay out of the wintry weather, I really like it. I really do. It is almost like being on a retreat. It is a time to be still and know . . . know one’s self and know one’s God.
The anticipation is in the air. As I write this it is raining, the temperature is dropping, and the snow is just waiting for its curtain call to make its entrance. We missed an earlier storm a few weeks ago, but this one is on track. A forecast of eight inches of snow . . . temperatures dropping to the single digits, if not below zero . . . blustery winds definitely dipping the thermometer below the zero . . . ice . . . and, possibly near blizzard conditions. Apocalyptic in nature. The snow is coming! But, I am ready. I have the next two days off . . . I have made my run to the grocery store and gotten my beer frig restocked, the Schnapps refilled, and found my long underwear. I have nowhere to go for two days . . . let it snow. I just hope the snowplows have the roads cleared by the time I have to go back to work on Wednesday . . . if not, well . . . if not, I might run out of beer. If that happens it might as well be the end of the world!
Let it snow!