After a 20 year adjustment period I am suddenly having an fairly easy time with winter here in Minnesota. It is odd that this grace seems to have come to me this particular winter, which is one of the roughest I have experienced. It has been most notable for its relentless, intense cold, but it has been no slouch when it comes to snow either. The stuff is piled up everywhere and the falling of another half foot appears to be imminent. We have nowhere to put any more snow here and so will be forced to gather at midnight to erect mighty snow towers and cities of snow people to disperse all the extra. Or at least we should consider this approach because otherwise we may be compelled to bring excess shovelfuls of snow into our living rooms just to be able to navigate our sidewalks. This indoor snow might damage the wainscoting. I hope my wainscoting will be okay. But despite all of this I am okay with the snow too. I am tentatively ready for more hopeless shoveling. I accept winter.
As I monitor my byzantine and confusing blog statistics, which I might want to try and stop doing because it gutters the wee flame of my spirit, I am surprised to find that, while I don't have millions of readers, they do sort of spread out, as if they are uncomfortable being too geographically close to each other. This means some of my readers are not so well acquainted with the snow. As a person who grew up in L.A. I know how this is. My only reliable source for the nature of snow, as a child, was Peanuts comic strips. These were barely enough, and the cushy luxuriousness of the portrayal of snowballs and snowmen was a touch deceptive. I would like to augment the available literature and let those of you from warmer climates know what snow is for and just what advantages it carries. I would like to briefly tell you what snow is good for. I think maybe I'd like to tell myself too, in case I forget in this coming blizzard.
1. Snow democratizes yards.
Under a couple feet of accumulated snow, the brilliantly gardened, exquisitely pathed front yard of my neighbor has no greater claim to glory than my humble home yard of hostas and pine needles. Indeed, all their elegant shrubs and delicate statuary just makes their yards look lumpy, while mine, with its towering snow bedecked pine and smooth casting of undisturbed white, is a minimalist masterpiece.
2. It shows up the dogs for the incontinent vandals they really are.
I don't hate dogs. I like all kinds of dogs, so long as they are not too friendly, or too unfriendly, don't bark, approach me not at all, or respectfully, do not growl or lick, poop only in their owners bathrooms, and never menace. And I would like even more dogs if they would stop making all the pretty snow go ugly by peeing all over it.
3. Snow asserts the dominion of nature.
I like flowers. I like leaves. I like when the rain makes everything moody and glassy. But in the city there is absolutely nothing for the sudden assertion of the dominion of the wild, for an instant half conversion to wilderness, like a great fall of snow.
4. Snow quiets everything down.
It is better quiet. Don't fight it. Stay home. Read some Rex Stout. Blog.
5. Shoveling is the most virtuous of all yard work.
Yes, it is ephemeral, and I may even think loathingly of this line item when soon I am out there trying to hurl the sidewalk snow up over the walls of snow created by our many previous snows, but to hand hew a clean walking path through deep drifts of snow is arduous and ennobling. And it is kind to the mail carrier, the wretched dog walkers, and to my wife and I, who like to go about the neighborhood to see what is what.