Outside the plow is scrapping two inches of snow off the road. My sidewalk required shoveling this morning too. In short, winter has arrived in our small corner of the world.
Preparing for winter in Geneva is not like when I lived in Buffalo or Vermont. Buffalonians can expect any day that begins with a sunny and calm morning could end with seven feet of snow. In fact, one Monday morning during Thanksgiving week in Buffalo, an unexpected Lake Effect storm moved in and the mayor made the mistake of closing the city immediately at midday. Downtown offices and city schools all emptied at the same time and within an hour main thoroughfares had become motionless parking lots. School buses full of kids and individual motorists alike, were stranded in a sea of white. Fortunately, it was Buffalo and a sense of community intervened. Neighborhoods brought food to the thousands stuck in traffic as several feet of snow filled in around them. Others welcomed people into their homes to use the bathroom. An army of volunteers with blades on pickups and pedestrians with snow blowers attacked the streets. What could have been a human tragedy was avoided because Buffalonians have a root system of pride around dealing with snow and helping one another get through.
Preparing for winter in Vermont was less about dramatic depths of snow and more about cold. It was not unusual to have extended periods when the thermometer registered fifteen or even twenty below zero at night. Before I lived there I thought it would kill a person to be out in such cold, but not Vermonters. Outfitted with the right kind of clothing they would be out snowmobiling, skiing, ice fishing, or snowshoeing in frigid negative temperatures.
But this morning in Geneva brings the special joy of looking out and seeing the canopy of tree branches transformed form dark, gnarled, and naked claws to soft rounded fingers powdered with confectioners’ sugar. The temperature too is a mild thirty-four on its way to forty. Winter just seems less intimidating here. To be respected of course, because ice, wind, and cold — and the occasional Alberta Clipper — are nothing to be complacent about. Still, the little collar of snow on my windowsills this morning seems friendly rather than foreboding.
A uniform blanket of white makes the world brighter even beneath the currently gray sky. I even greet the tracks of small mammals near the house with interest and a kind of child-like curiosity rather than consternation. Oh sure, by mid-February this is going to be a slog, but right now along the escarpment between November and December it feels delightful.
I am not the only one. Rabia, my Labrador-Golden mix, has a new lease on puppyhood when snow is on the ground. Her nose roots excitedly for scents beneath the fluff in places she would not deign to sniff otherwise. Excitedly she prances around with the white stuff on her already cold nose and looks up with a coy “let’s play” look. Her enthusiasm for winter will not fade when mine does.
When you read this it will be December 1st and the next day’s forecast is fifty with rain, but for a moment the world seemed fresh, magical, and new. That’s a welcome sensation these days.