It’s hard not to talk about the weather. It seems like we’re compelled, even, to give voice to this phenomenon that has grabbed us all by the scruff of our necks. Here, just outside of Philadelphia, we are experiencing more than our typical mediocre winter. This winter we’ve gone hardcore. We’ve had more snow than my memory can recall, with more extreme side effects. It seems that it has had the collective effect of spinning us blindfolded in search of that tail to pin on a donkey. We’re all stumbling a bit, here, unmoored from what we rely on as normal.
There were six days that my house was without power. First, the snow came in, and then was followed by ice and wind. Ice and wind tested the strength of those trees with their lady finger branches knuckling towards the sky. Many of them were weaker than their beauty let on, and in their snapping they brought down power line upon power line. Record number of people felt the depth of our reliance on electricity – for warmth, for light and nourishment, for water and entertainment and convenience. The crews that worked tirelessly to restore our infrastructure are heroes. But I am responsible for my own infrastructure, to restore light and warmth inside the home of my soul, the balance to the places of family.
We stayed five of those six days with my mother, eating food from her fridge and burning her firewood for nothing more than ambiance. Her 12 hours or so without power seemed like a brief memory as the clock ticked, one day turning into the next, that slice of pie becoming slimmer as we chalked up another day without power at my own home.
The room that Griffin sleeps in when we stay at my mom’s is in the corner of the house with windows facing the front and the side. Blinds hang on the window facing the street, but the light comes unbroken through the east window on the side. He wakes early here. The beauty that greets him, that calls me from the warmth of my own bed, though, is that of bright serenity. Each morning, lifting him from bed, he and I hold each other in front of that side window, looking out in to the woods, delicately dusted with the soft white beauty of the snow. The sun’s light is reflected off of the snowy surface and the brightness magnifies, uplifts. Trees, holding only their truest selves left naked of the camouflage of leaves, angle this way and that, their narrow dark branches create geometric patterns as they crisscross each other. The particular weather that we’ve had has highlighted these lines, first encrusting them in glistening ice, bejeweled and glistening with the morning sun. Then the snow came and now clings to the edges of everything. The creek looks like it has carved through the ground, it’s banks merely the abrupt end of white. Griffin’s eyes follow the path of the creek, and he notices two deer standing in the water, their leggy bodies standing in stark contrast to the bright backdrop.
This snow illuminates the edges. The lines are clean, and we have an enhanced way of seeing our landscape. There is clarity.
Power is restored. We move back home. I empty the fridge, throw out unopened containers of sour cream, air out the house. There is school. Until the next storm comes.
Last night the phone call came that there would be no school again. This, of course, did not surprise me because after snowing all day long, with a respite in the middle, we were preparing for another hit after bedtime. People ask how much we have here. I have a hard time answering because the storms keep piling on top of each other, simply adding another layer to this dense snow cake. It is more snow that any two year old, or even four year old, can walk around in. Grant has been trudging through it though, barreling his chest forward to break a path for his legs and most often flopping down snow angel-style or eventually falling to a crawl.
This snow now brings less clarity. There are no longer clean lines, branches arching their brown arms out in offering. This much snow now has a blurring effect, the softening of lines. The sheer amount of snow piles high and rounds out the sharpness enhanced by the last storm. There are mounds now, instead of steps; drifts instead of edges. The yard is now pocked with slight dips and ambling climbs instead of the sharper angles that I’m used to seeing. Our previous tracks have been filled in, evidence of where we were sledding only days ago blotted out from the visage. The grill, the picnic table, the fire pit – only allusions, lines and angles reduced to softer, supple versions of themselves. The edges are gone.
I take cues from my landscape. I plunge my hands, my legs into the snow, bracing against the cold, tightening my muscles in protection. I find my edges. I know my lines, feel my bones, my own internal infrastructure. I lean into the brightness, turn my face to reflect the sun. And I soften.