By some alchemy, winter is flying by us this year. Faster and faster every year of our lives. We’re nearly two-thirds done with the season already. There’s just a month and a few extra days left to withstand. A snap of the fingers and it will be gone. Finished. Another winter to enter into our personal annals, in which we thrived or merely survived.
Soon enough, we will be staring at spring. Though, if you are a resident of North Salem or the vicinity, you already know that early spring in North Salem, lately, is nothing to write home about. The light lingers longer and longer each day and the body feels that it ought to be warm. But it rarely is. The grass is still dead and the light is frequently gray filtered through a thick cloud cover. And the wind churns through it all, chilling early hopes of warmth and beauty.
But that’s a column for another day. We’re still mired in winter now. So let’s talk about that. Though we have had snowfalls aplenty, so far this season, apart from one memorable Bomb Cyclone at the start of 2018, none of these small storms have deposited much of the white stuff in our district. We have not yet had feet of the stuff piled high in all directions this year, though there have been some gorgeous, snow-covered vistas to stare out upon, each lasting a few days before it melted away.
Speaking of winter sights, have you ever stared at the silhouettes of trees in winter? Bare of leaves, the “bones” of the trees stand out and their shapes emerge plainly. The elegance of curvaceous, upper branches; straight trees and stout ones. Trees with “personalities.” And trees aplenty that give the impression of graceful female spirits. Today I noticed a pair of trees that looked like nothing so much as female and male dancers at a ball. The “female” stood in front while the taller, straight “male” tree was standing protectively behind, its branches encircling its partner. When you look at trees in winter, it’s easy to understand why the ancient Greeks assigned a specific class of nymphs, called dryads, to the trees, which they understood as tree spirits.
And now a brief digression. “Wintry mix,” which we endured last week, seems to me, hands down, the worst weather pattern to suffer through. There is just no way to enjoy a pristine fall of snow transform into a slush storm, then change into a hail storm that later turns to hours of rain for which there is no drainage because the ground is still frozen; so that when the temperature plunges overnight, all those great puddles mutate into personal, tiny ice rinks, fun for kids and pets but hazardous for the elderly. It’s even worse when you have to drive through those days on roads and highways, sludge spraying everywhere, or walk your dog through them or go about your day productively out in the world. February usually gives us several occasions of wintry mix, so I won’t be surprised to see more come our way in the days to come. Though on several occasions this last week, it has been far too warm for snow, so we had winter rain instead.
Still, the good news is that there are just 33 days of official winter left this season! For though I enjoy winter, particularly the bracing and purifying weather in early January, I am always glad to pass on to the next season, even if early spring will be dismal for a few weeks this year.
Mara Schiffren, a Campus Watch Fellow, is a writer and functional medicine health coach who lives in North Salem.