13 January 2012

My Winter's Tale

I miss snow and every thing about it. Since moving to South Carolina from Pennsylvania eight years ago, I have experienced one serious, measurable snow fall. That snowfall that came in January of 2011 only reminded me how much I miss snow.

The winters here aren't even terribly cold. I am reminded of this every time I say 'It's not that cold' and someone calls me a damn yankee.

I think I miss the sound of snow falling. The million whispers, like a secret song, of the delicate snow flakes as they fall, float, and dance from the sky to pile up on one another to form a blanket so serene you are afraid to disturb it. I miss the smell of the snow, clean and rich, as the air surrounding it fills your airways with a coolness that makes you feel like you are breathing heaven itself.

I miss the way the snow flakes stack and lay on tree limbs and cast iron handrails, on car bumpers and mulberry bushes, on window panes and the thin line of the telephone wires. I miss watching the snow swallow the sidewalks and lawns. I miss the way it lays on the shoulder of my coat or feels, icey cold and wet on my eye lashes.

The snow at night I miss the most. The way it looks in the street lights and lamp lights before it has been violated by plows and shovels and blowers and insulated boots.

I miss dressing for the snow. I miss dressing in layers of clothes and over-sized sweaters, heavy coats and the perfect hat to top it all off. A wool cap, an old fedora, or a beat up pork pie hat. I miss my wool gloves that had the fingertips cut off. I miss dressing up for the snow and grabbing my guitar and going out. Hearing the snow compacting and crunching under my boots as I make my way to the car.

I miss the sting of the snow as the wind would catch it and spray it back into my face while I tried to brush it off the windshield. I miss sitting in the car, waiting for it to heat up, and watching the snow melt from the defroster blowing warm air on the windows.

I miss arriving at the bar with my guitar and seeing all the people who ventured out as I did. All of dressed for the snow as if she were some beautiful mistress we waited all year to dance with, to romance, to roll in and play in, to behold and be amazed by. The greetings we give one another warmer than usual, friendlier, almost more sincere. I miss talking about the snow with these people. How much, how cold, will it keep up, will it ever end, and isn't it beautiful.

I miss my cheap shots of Blackberry Brandy alongside my lager. No Jack Daniels tonight. You need the thick, almost syrup like texture, of the warm fruit brandy to coat your cold and raw throat, to slide into your belly and lay like soothing embers and warm you from the inside. I miss leaving my scarf on in some pretentious fashion and laying my gloves next to my lager to dry in the heat of the room.

I miss finally getting my turn to play on stage, my head abuzz and light from the brandy and lager and playing my guitar and singing to the faces that might turn to me. The red cheeked faces, either from the snow outside or the fire inside, of those who came to celebrate the snow and how it demands that every one should be with some one this night or with as many people as they can be with under one warm roof.

Yes, I also miss the crunching of rocksalt on the steps and the sound of shovels scraping the concrete. I miss shoveling it. I miss making snow men and snowballs and snow angels.

I miss walking in the snow.

I was in Pennsylvania during the blizzard of '96 that shut down the city and brought life to a standstill. I walked home from work, two miles, after the snow had finally stopped falling. The silence was the most beautiful music I have ever heard yet it wasn't completely silent. There were people skiing down the streets. There were lovers holding hands as they walked down the middle of empty roads. There were children, so amazed and so in awe they had no concern for snowmen or snowball fights, they just ran through it. In places it came up to their chests and in places they simply vanished in it, the only proof they were ever there at all being their laughter. The streetlights were the only source of light at all, no cars, plows, no store front windows bleeding fluorescent light onto the streets.

I walked three quarters of a mile through the city then turned on to the side streets that led to my apartment. Down towards the museum, the pond and waterfall and over two small bridges. A wonderland to behold, indeed. The world was not just covered in snow on this night. It was frosted, thickly, deeply, and so carefully. Not one ledge, edge, top, protrusion, or overhang missed. All as if the snow had always been here and these things had pushed there way up from beneath. On the side roads the sounds I heard were my boots in the snow, my breathing slow and deep, and the snow, whispering softly in a deep voice, 'Look at me. Have I ever looked so lovely?' It tried to seduce me into taking off my coat. It promised the worst of the storm was over and it could blanket me and keep me just as warm as everything it covered. I unbuttoned my coat and stopped there, reminding the snow that there are no bars or pubs open this night and no Blackberry Brandy to warm my insides, that as much as I loved my coffee or a rich cup of hot chocolate, it just wouldn't be the same.

No comments:

Post a Comment