Snow job

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It looked like a pillow fight in a movie: downy feathers of snow twisting and drifting through the air, with little space between the fluttering flakes. A midday flurry making landfall in heaps and mounds. 

Yet it wasn’t too voluminous, this late-winter coating, and instead of pillowy tufts, the following day offers equal parts splash and crunch. Anything beautiful about the snow has thawed into a slurry swamp. Walking the dog, we slalomed around slush and brown puddles resembling polluted ponds. My sneakers got wet. 

Slush, rivers of slush.

I love winter. I like the cold. But I can do without snow, which wasn’t true during my salad days of skiing down vertiginous slopes, laughing all the way. Nowadays I’m too reserved to even toboggan, and I am not squatting in one of those saucer sleds for the certainty that I will break my collar bone in a spectacular face plant. 

Snow now means shoveling, one of the lowest forms of drudgery, right there with prisoners smashing quarry rocks in old-timey pictures like “I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang.” No matter how frigid it is, I sweat piggishly when shoveling snow. I hate sweating. I hate heat. Did I mention I like winter?

But the season will soon cruelly vanish and shorts, a sartorial scandal, will be all the rage. It’s probable more snow will fall before that; March often gets dumped on without mercy. If there was a hill around here, I’d rent some skis. (And probably snap a femur.) 

So this is a premature farewell to the fair season, when we abide icy irritants for the relievedly short days, chilly breezes, hot toddies, fashionable outerwear (is anything hipper than a natty scarf?) and indiscriminate cuddling. (About outerwear: I never don gloves or hats in winter. My mammalian blood takes care of the extremities, ears too.)

When another snow day comes this season, I will gripe and groan. But I will also be grateful that it’s still winter. That I can wear a parka with impunity. That I don’t have to attend barbecues and eat outdoors. That bugs and sunshine won’t assail me. And that I can, joyfully, unabashedly, freeze my ass off.

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Spring’s baffling, irritating volatility

Easter Sunday’s unambiguous spurt of spring — vigorous sunshine, 60 degrees, itsy Technicolor blossoms dimpling New York’s Central Park — now has the Monday doldrums. Snow — we got more snow. Some six inches. It’s April 2. What are we, Michigan, Montana, the Alps? 

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This …

Spring seems uncertain if she wants to touch down and nestle in. She’s circling, weighing her options. She is fickle and flighty and flirty:

Here’s some sun and a teasing 50 degrees, cloudless and dry, she says. Now here’s a spritz of rain, 30 degrees, sky gun-metal-gray and cloud-clogged. And here, ha ha, are bluffs of sticky snow. Deal. I’ll be getting my nails done.  

Winter’s a bitch. Spring may be bitchier, for now. The season’s schizophrenic whiplash hurtles like a clattering, climatic rollercoaster. And for many people, it’s no fun at all. 

Climate change is irrefutably jumbling normal seasonal patterns. The erratic weather impacts swaths of natural phenomena, from plant blossoms arriving at the wrong time to dangerous tidal levels to the destruction of lucrative crops.

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… or this? Spring’s maddening indecision.

It is 35 degrees as I write this.

It will be 65 degrees, with rain, on Wednesday.

Amidst all this I’m supposed to be ruffled. I am not. I don’t like that the 70s and 80s are impending. I don’t like that it gets dark at 8 p.m., and soon 9 p.m. I embrace the 40s and 50s. I relish an early dusk. (At times in the Arctic Circle, they don’t see the sun for weeks. Glorious.)

Yesterday’s taste of true spring, the one we’ll soon be stuck with, was like a warning shot telling me I’m in for months of bright, hot discomfort. For everyone else it was a harbinger of heaven, petal-strewn paradise, a fantasia for flip-flops. They can have it. Or at least when spring decides to figure herself out, cut the confusion, and finally land.

Spring is here. Hello snow.

We’re getting socked in. It’s the second day of spring, officially, and snow is coming down at a canted angle, in flurries of tattered cotton, looking almost fake, like white confetti, not wispy crackles of ice that cling to eyelashes. It’s moving fast and dense, and those fluffy pale piles outside are growing into ominous bulging heaps. For those of us with snow shovels in their future, this flatly blows.

The forecasts are bing-boingy, all over the place, predicting everything from eight to 16 inches — hardly a snow-pocalypse, but resolutely a pain and undeniably an inconvenience. Schools are out. Roads are tricky and perilous. Housebound, there is nowhere to go.

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Yet it’s so pretty.

I’ve groused before: I’m not a fan of spring or summer. So I should be euphoric. But there’s this: I also don’t like snow. When I skied in my teens in California, of course I loved it. As a child hurling snowballs: same. Now, while I still find it aesthetically unassailable — it radiates an ethereal beauty — snow really comes down to an extravagant shambles marked by danger, wetness, slush and mush. And, you got it, shoveling.

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Then again …

It doesn’t snow all that much here. This isn’t Canada. Which makes us fairly wussy about the white stuff, a bit whiny and bleating. It’s all about proportion, and I think we’re handling today’s dumping with a dash of composure, a smidge of sangfroid. (Wait till the shovels come out. Grown men will weep.)

This mass deposit from the heavens should be mostly melted away by, oh, Sunday or Monday. But wait. I just now peeked at the forecast. It shows cartoon snowflakes falling tomorrow — snowflakes, so wondrous and horrible, flittering down on the land, sitting pretty, and oh so monstrously.