In the long dark of winter, I usually long for sun and rain and melt. Like a grouse, I hunker down below the snow, wait out the storms, and dream of spring. After every snowfall, the New England trees shudder, straighten up, and release their burdens in a slightly longer day and a slightly warmer sun.
Like the trees, we weather our nor’easter, shake off the foot of snow, and venture out into the bitter cold and screaming wind that so often follow such storms. It feels like winter today. Yet, it is also one of very few days that feel like winter of late. Just a few days ago, ice and snow came in the night, but it melted into 40-degree rain by morning.
As it has a dozen times this past month. Instead of the deep winter of January and February, we seem to be stuck in a protracted April. January showers bring February showers bring March showers; winter wanders farther north in search of more hospitable conditions
It leaves me with mixed feelings, this inexorable progression. I do long for the end of winter, but the longing is part of the season. What is there to long for if the cold never settles to your bones? Will we appreciate the spring so much if winter is only an occasional visitor? And will we own the consequences?
I confess, I do not understand how we look at this procession of hotter and hotter years, this march of warmer Marches, without seeing that the change we effect in our climate is change we inflict on ourselves. A belligerent ostrich may argue that warmer winters are better, that having our wishes fulfilled is without cost. For the rest of us who raise our heads and see, the link between winter rain and summer drought is blinding and painful.
When there is no water for the fields, the lawns are brown, and the summer sun burns a little too hot, we know why. When the jobs are gone along with the resources we wasted, we know why. When we idle our cars to keep out the cold and burn our lights through the winter, we know we are melting the next season’s snow.
We can be ostriches if we choose, and bury our heads in the sand; or we can act to keep from creating the desert in the first place.
It isn’t easy to lift our heads and look around. For now, I see heaps of snow and familiar bitter wind. I could pretend the winter of today is the winter of yesterday and tomorrow, too. But I think the pretending wouldn’t last; my longing for spring is already too precariously split with a longing for winter. It is in the right order today, but I know it will be backwards again soon.
I have to remember, we create our own world. If a climate with no winters is what we wish for, we will make it so. We do that by default, by melting tomorrow in service of an easier today. But if we long for winter, we can keep hold of it together. We don’t have to banish it in all our little choices, and so many of our large ones.
The question is, how many Aprils do we wish for? For me, one a year will do.
Image Credit: My Own