You never understand the reality of living in New England until you have forgotten what the front porch looks like without salt stains, you can’t remember what it feels like to walk on dry pavement (forget about grass!), and you can tell that there was an overnight snowfall merely because of the pale white quality of the early morning light leaking through the tightly-closed blinds. It’s a crazy, bipolar kind of existence, living in Massachusetts, because the snow is a force to be reckoned with, an all-encompassing lifestyle shaker. And yet, somehow it renders the two (if we’re lucky) months of summer so vibrant and lush that you can’t bear to leave. In the midst of seemingly endless parades of snow alternating with that strange weather that meteorologists refer to as “wintry mix”, we just manage to remember that in a few months there will be a sea-change.
Oh, sure, first it will rain . . . torrentially . . . possibly for the entire month of June. After that, though, this world that has been so monochromatically gray and so inexplicably frozen will explode into action.
The trees will blossom into lush fullness, the ocean will sparkle like a blanket of diamonds, the heat will surprise popsicles into melting, and the sun will catch oft-hidden pale skin unaware with more than just a kiss of color. I often wonder how southerners read C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, and really get it. Who can understand the curse of “always winter, but never Christmas” if they haven’t lived it in some way? A single season –even winter– might not sound too bad for people who have not truly traveled into the extremes.
Why do we think, societally, that talking about the weather is shallow? Perhaps we use it as a conversational crutch to avoid more personal dialogue, or to keep chatter topical and connect us to everyday faces we encounter through that one universal experience, but weather is nothing to be relegated merely to the surface level. Weather, in its extremes, and perhaps even in its temperance, can be life-changing. A freak storm might end a life but a lifetime of weak sunlight on crabgrass might render a life less full, which is possibly more insidious. Talking about weather might just be the most important thing we do, if it allows us to recognize the multifaceted brilliance of our backdrop.
Maybe I will someday laugh at these foolish musings and think that I was young and over-romanticizing a silly topic. Or maybe when I am old, I will move to an always-sunny climate because my back can no longer take the hours of shoveling required to manage life in New England. I don’t pretend to know the way that age shapes perspectives on weather, but I do know that snowstorms that were once just a glittering world of opportunity for forts, snowmen, and hot chocolate are, sadly, now more commonly groan-inducing reasons to shovel the driveway so that you can slide terrifyingly as you try to stop the car on the commute to work. Perspectives do change and the practicalities and responsibilities of life might change me, so I might be lying when I say that I always will live in a place with four seasons. It is, however, my plan, and for this moment I am sticking to it.
So today, even though I am headed to pick up my snow shovel and scrape off the tired Honda, I am going to remember that in a few months everything will change. I am thankful to know what it means to have a season, to understand the curse of the White Witch and the joy in the hope of Aslan. I am thankful to live in New England. The snow may be deeper here, but the sun is also warmer.