Saturday, December 17, 2016

Here We Are Again

Here we are again at that point in time in this particular part of the world where Nature steps back and puts a blank white canvas up on her easel. Sometimes without warning, our world goes from color, albeit muted, to solid white, leaving us to reminisce about how it looked not that long ago. We had an extended autumn this year, but winter was sure to make its appearance sooner or later, presenting us yet again with the challenge of finding something pleasant or pretty to look at.

Right now, it's snowing lightly, but the prediction is for it to become heavier as the day progresses before turning, as it so often does here, into sleet or freezing rain. What isn't actually white is gray, and any other color, be it that of a parked car or a pine tree's needles, is muted and bland in the absence of the defining sort of light the sun provides.

Snow not only dulls the landscape during its descent but also casts a hush over everything. Outside sounds are muted, less pronounced, as though the sharp whistle of the distant train is somehow caught up by the snowflakes and set down more gently upon our ears. Even the crow's cry is muffled as it lands to grab a slice of bread then takes to the sky once again to find a spot where it can enjoy the morsel undisturbed.

While astrological winter, which coincides with the solstice, does not officially arrive until next week, meteorological winter, the kind weather gurus rave about and which began on December first, has been in full swing for some time now, marked by some snow, high winds, and bitter subzero cold. Oh, and let's not forget the ice, without which it would really be winter in this part of Maine!

I just read a post on Facebook about folks in the northwestern U.S. who are dealing with an ice storm and power outages. I chuckled. That's a way of life here, and something we have all come to expect no matter how long we've called Maine home. Of course, it gets worse the farther north we go. But all things considered, the entire state suffers from one form of winter woe or another between the months of November and April, and sometimes even before and after those months!

So yes, here we are again at that point in time where winter weather has officially arrived and when even those who have had years of experience with it continue to complain. I must admit that some aspects of it are a bit much to deal with at times, and that get progressively worse as time goes by and winter's cumulative effects become tiresomely rote. I could live without the ice on walkways and roadways, but I must admit that it is stunning to wake up on a sunny morning after a storm and see every single tree branch and twig sparkling with it. I have also experienced rainy foggy mild sunless winters which just didn't feel right to me and which the word "blah" adequately described. But then, those speak of spring to me, and with each passing winter, we are that much closer to the season of rebirth. And wind...that's another story. Though I do enjoy hearing it howling and roaring of a winter's night, I cringe when day breaks and reveals to us an aftermath of downed trees and powerlines.

I also distinctly recall a few winters where it snowed so often and so much that even shoveling seemed an exercise in futility, for it seemed like I was moving the same snow from one place to another and back again. The worst, though, is having to clean my car off after each storm. So the less I have to do that, the better. Considering the fact, however, that I'm retired now, I am no longer in a very great rush to do that. And it's been my experience that, if I wait long enough, the sun will help that process along considerably once it comes out again and the air warms.

It's winter, when Nature's mood swings take chillier more tangible forms. For unlike after a spring or summer storm, a winter event leaves more evidence behind for us to deal with and either lament or marvel at. Being a Mainer, I suppose I will continue to do both. Once my car is cleaned off and I can relax, then I can indulge in the latter to my heart's content. And so far, Nature has never let me down on that score!

To read more Winter essays, as well as others dedicated to the other seasons, visit: