This morning it is snowing. There is a soft drift of marginally large flakes descending. Oddly, they remind me of ash. That may be the grey. It may be the news of yet another impending war. It may be reading about climate collapse. If it had been a week earlier or the snow less insistent, there wouldn’t be an accumulation. As it is, the first to fall melted almost immediately upon hitting the ground—a savage reminder about being the first of anything.
Yesterday was unseasonably warm or at least I believe it was. Despite how many people I ask, no one knows what normal is. Being an immigrant to this place not because I am from another country, but from another region, I am completely at a loss as to what is typical weather. I’ve discovered that between the people who are also immigrants and the ones who are indigenous but never go outside, there is no consensus as to whether what we are experiencing has ever happened before. I can only go by my first three years: a desert-like drought followed by brutal cold, rain that didn’t end for what felt like 18 months coupled to heat that could take the body into a fetal position followed by cold that froze the bones in place, and finally a compassionate summer followed by a more than kind winter. We haven’t had the winds that tore things from their moorings and scattered them for yards multiple times. We haven't had the heat that shriveled plants within a day or the cold that penetrated every cell in the body, killed all three hives, cracked metal, and destroyed plastic. We haven't had the torrents of rain that came in short bursts that the earth couldn’t absorb fast enough and the endless rain for so long there were weeks of standing water in my slant of a yard and rising floods threatening my house that sits two feet off the ground on a hill. I may be the first, but I’m declaring this year as “normal” and anything different as being part of climate collapse and deviant.
This has been a gentle year. I know it is a lull, a temporary space of time to restore and regroup my emotions and my spirit and even my body and I’m using it as such. I spend more time in prayer, doing yoga, feeling the sun on my face, allowing a gentle breeze to cross. This one within season and reason snowfall is acceptable even if I’m not one to fully welcome any snow day with a generous hospitality. There are always limbs that break causing lines to fall. Being without electricity on a homestead means being without running water. While I can go days without electricity, I can’t go many hours without water. Preparing for these inevitabilities in my austere circumstances is a practice in humility.
Despite prayers and even penitence, the weather wins. So, it snows. It piles up in drifts and mounds and outlines every surface, including a fringe on the limbs of trees and bushes and the wildflower stems I did not mow this year, but left to go to seed so the birds who keep me company in the darkening days would have access to food. When the snow leaves by this evening or at the latest tomorrow morning, everything will return to the same browns and greys they were before. The seeds will be there for the cardinals, blue jays and yellow finches. I won’t grieve the end of what will by then be muddy slush, but I can’t help but be impressed by the courage of the first flakes to fall, which had no choice but to melt. The ones to follow will inevitably go the same way—into the ground unnoticed, uncounted, unrecognized for being unique or for their significant role in sustaining life. Today though, for a brief moment in time, they soften the world outside my window and despite my cynical heart, I am grateful.