We are all truly sick of the constant barrage of the winter of 2014. We’ve seen past winters where the cold was so constant it seeped inside our very souls by winter’s end. We’ve seen past winter storms where snow piled high enough to act like quick sand, trapping us in our homes. But I don’t personally remember a winter where both conditions kept pounding and pounding away at us.
Don’t get me wrong. I’d find it hard to live in Sunny Cal where weather rarely challenges its residents. Those of us who live without sun and good fruit part of the year are toughened by our winters. I also will always find the emptying of grocery store shelves that goes along with a Washington, D.C. snow prediction deeply amusing. But by the time this week’s snow hit, it reminded me of how hard this winter has been for other reasons. My mom, my siblings and I are trying to deal with my ailing father. I’ve seen more death among friends, loved ones and their families than I’ve seen in many years. The cold has reached my heart and left it paralyzed just in time for spring.
This latest snowfall in our area was the same as many have been this year: the sky dumped the third-largest amount of snow here ever to fall this late in the season. Temperatures ran at lows all week; news organizations had a field day talking about how depressed everyone is and how road crews can’t keep up.
Determined as I’ve been all season not to let snow keep me or my dog from exercise, I prepared to venture forth—extra warm underclothes, a hoodie sweatshirt under winter down coat, gloves that allow me to maintain a grip on the leash, the dreaded and now well-worn snow boots. My poor dog stands and stares with big sad eyes at this human ritual that delays her walk by ten minutes (which in doggy time is two hours). But we eventually made it out the door and down the walk and onto the already clean sidewalks. About 10 minutes into the walk, I lifted my grumbling head and looked up. And I was wowed.
This particular snow hadn’t stuck long to the paved surfaces and the ground was ugly with dirty snow piles and mud. But the fluff had clung tightly to every tree branch and bush and flat surface that wasn’t used for traffic, and the resulting scenery was stunning. It literally stopped me in my tracks, made me take a deep breath and feel the beauty of the snowfall.
Life’s challenges have this really annoying habit sometimes of getting in the way of living. Standing on a sidewalk, gazing in wonder at God’s creation is the part of living we forget when we are embroiled in hardship. It moved me so deeply I went back to the house for my camera.
I have to admit that as I snap snap snapped away, I was hoping I was doing it to commemorate the last snowfall of 2014. It is, after all, the first day of spring. But I will remember this week’s snow for a very long time.
Genilee Swope Parente