Sunday, December 02, 2007

There Might As Well Be Snow

If it's going to be cold anyway...if the ground will be hard with frost and the grass will be gray and dormant...if the sun won't shine after 4:00 in the afternoon...if I'm paying for all this heat to leak out my 97-year-old windows...well, then there might as well be six inches of clean, white snow on the ground. I don't know if I'll ever learn to be the type of person who loves the winter, but I am the type of Minnesotan who gets all edgy and nervous when we live through all of the symptoms of winter with no snow.

Last year, for example, there was hardly any snow far too late in the season, and we'd also have strange warm days mixed in with our cold ones. I used to watch the grounds crew at the local park try to make ice. It was the saddest ritual. It'd be 5:45 in the morning while I walked past with Buddy, and they'd be bundled up so many layers thick with Carharts that you couldn't identify them by gender. Morning after morning they'd stand there in the cold darkness, watering the ice. At 5:45 in the morning the water would turn slushy as it hit the ground. Then, by 10:00, the sun would come out, the thermometer would hit 40 degrees and the slush would turn back to water, so they'd have to try again the next day. All through December they tried. It was into January, and the ice still wouldn't stick. I began to see it as a portent of evil, a sign of the apocalypse. No ice in Minnesota in January. We really fucked up the planet this time.

This year, though, their first layer of ice is already laid down on the ground, and it's surrounded by mounds of fresh snow and it's only the first days of December. We are back to where we belong. All is right with the world. The kids can sled and skate, and I can tromp through snow with Buddy on my morning walk. I don't love the winter, but I do appreciate it when it behaves as it should.

PS If it happens to be your birthday today, then give yourself a big hug from me, and give me a shout so I can buy you dinner.

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