Wednesday, December 31, 2008

good snow, goodbye

So I thought it was good, the two weeks of snow. It’s good to have weird, big events in our lives, the kind of things that create befores and afters. Of course many big events, the kind that create a before and after, are terrible. And I don’t mean to overlook that aspects of the snow were terrible – what it cost to the city, the inconvenience, the car accidents, the bitter cold.

But all that aside, there was something to it. To being completely stopped for awhile and being stuck at home. Not thinking about what you need to buy or where you need to go. Not drumming up activity just for activity’s sake. The kid loved it. She’s not a big fan of gear switching these days and so it suited her just fine. Hunkering down on the couch with a pile of books. Glue and paper and paint at the dining room table. And I loved it too. It was restful. And, miraculously, I felt like I had space. A feeling which comes, apparently, from having lots of time and nowhere to go.

Back in my twenties I lived West Virginia for a while and I became friendly with the mailman. His wife was a hard working farm woman and they’d lived in Heaters their whole lives. They worked so hard, all the time, every day, despite the fact that they both must’ve been close to 70. When they’d tell a story it was almost always introduced by the year. And the year was always marked with the big event. “Back the year the barn caught on fire…” or “The year they built the church…”

When you grow up in the suburbs you don’t learn North from South. And when you grow up in the suburbs you don’t learn to tell time by years. It’s a matter of context, orientation. I feel like modern life, city life, whatever you want to call it, lacks context. It lacks places and events that clearly orient us. It lacks a tangible timeline.

So it’s good for a city to have a big snow. Because we’ll remember this year. Our memories of this Christmas will be, I’ll bet, more vivid and specific. Because we had a big weird event that pulled us out of our patterns, pulled us out the blur of days and double yellow lines and faces at the mall. When I think of this Christmas I’ll be oriented, grounded by gingerbread men, wet mittens, a handful of gifts and plenty of space.


Anne Woods said...

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog today. I love that "Next blog" feature too. Your writing is beautiful, and your photos as well. I loved seeing the stork scissors!! It brought back a flood of memories, I remember those in my mother's sewing box too. I seem to recall that they chirp when they open and close.

crochet lady said...

I came across your blog through a comment you left on a friend's blog. I enjoyed your writing. I grew up on a dairy farm, the very unexpected youngest of six. I loved growing up in the country. The fields and trees were my friends and my playground. My dad retired from farming in his late sixties when I was nine. Through the years I have listened to much country wisdom and tales of the old days and big snows. My dad's wonderful tales are now hidden in a cloud of dimenia but he can still play his harmonica. Like you my mom is gone too. Eight years now and sometimes I still miss her so much I choke, so I know the feeling of a hard goodbye as well. I really enjoyed reading some of your posts. Sorry, this is kind of a long hello.