It happens suddenly. It’s a semi-bittersweet surprise. Breathtaking in power, shocking in effect, the snow blankets the world.
In some places, you learn to expect the unexpected–or, more accurately, seemingly impossible–storms. Still, the swiftness and magnitude leave you gaping some days.
What you may not know about a snow storm is it happens quietly. Rain storms, thunderstorms, hurricanes, and tornadoes scream and shout. Lots of bark. A snow storm imposes itself silently. A snow storm, calm and silent, buries your house, your car, the gym, the grocery store, your office, and the town’s circulatory system in feet of frozen water.
The Nor’Easter is a special kind of snow storm. The Nor’Easter usually strikes you in March and most likely happens after a brief spring-like period teases you into springtime thinking. Dreams of sunburns, shorts, and baseball.
The world deceives you with that one day in late February where the temperature hits 60. You walk outside in a tee shirt and smile, breathing in the fresh air. The blue sky twinkles at you in the daytime. You drive with the windows down and wave at a stranger. Long lost comrade from back when the trees had leaves.
You cook outside on your small balcony. You day drink and day think about renewal and plans just over the horizon. You happily put the winter behind you.
Cheerily, you go about your life. Until one day, you walk out to your car and it’s just too damn cold again. But the sky is still blue and still twinkles for you in the daytime. You shake off the funny feeling that winter’s not over even though you believe it must be. You remember beaches, humidity, and hurried laughter in the park.
The next day, you decide to bring a heavier coat–just in case. Your skin feels extra dry. You can’t help, but feel sad because the blue sky has gone away forcing your world into the gray fog of a revenant winter. At least it’s just cold.
Then, the doomsday prophesiers commandeer the weather stations, radio stations, checkout lanes, and water coolers. The whole wide world knows tomorrow you may just wake up in an ocean of snowflakes. Your springtime thoughts suddenly snuffed out.
You return home after work. You gather up enough courage to brave the tempest in the grocery store. You know you need the three things your mother told you you need in times like these: milk, toilet paper, bread.
You locate your lonely winter boots, the one sitting up soldierly straight, the other toppled over in defeat laces splayed on the ground. You find your gloves with the small holes forming in the palms. You pick up your lucky winter cap.
When you were a child, you loved these nights because they gifted you the possibility of hope: hope for no school, a day at play, and extra sleep. Now, you are fearful of what is going to happen next; frustrated by a commute made more dangerous and infuriating than normal by the mixture of heavy snow and bad, timid/bold drivers; and reminded of how little you can do to stop anything from happening when it wants to.
You curl under your covers. You stare out the window as the silent song of winter clouds plays out, a symphony of twirling white wind gusts and steady headlights. You check your e-mail for news about tomorrow. Nothing these. You call a friend. He doesn’t answer.
You pull the covers up a little higher. You say a quick prayer for electricity and your furnace. Maybe one for your parents’ furnace too.
You tell yourself this too shall pass. Every single moment is endurable. And you brace yourself for the morning, dreaming of ice skaters on the ball field.