I have friends in warm places who revel smugly in their steady 80-degree temps, green winter grass and year-round local fruit supply (often from their own yards).
But they don’t have snow awnings.
This is my term – if there’s an official one, I don’t know what it is – for the gravity-defying snow formations that appear after a big snowstorm. I first saw them hanging over the dormer windows in my top-floor apartment, in an old house with a slate roof. Yesterday, I returned home from work to a still-growing snow awning over my kitchen window. This was even more miraculous because I have a metal roof, which usually dumps most of its snow load almost as soon as it falls from the sky.
I don’t know what the physics are, but as you can see from the photos, the snow starts sliding off the roof almost glacially. Something holds it together enough that it slips off as though it were a lightly starched bed sheet, so that, within a few hours, it hovers, curved and graceful and impossible, off the edge of the roof. It’s a thing of beauty, made all the more special by its ephemeral nature. Twenty minutes after I took these photos, I was reveling in a perfectly grilled turkey Reuben when I heard a muffled thud, and knew that my natural snow sculpture was no more.
My fair-weather friends miss out on other joys of winter. As I type this, snow coming down lightly outside, I’m in front of my flickering fireplace on the couch. Chili and hot chocolate taste sharper, brighter after an aerobic, weight-bearing, sweaty session shoveling snow – the perfect workout. Who wants hot mulled cider when it’s 70 degrees?
Here in my corner of Vermont, we spent most of last year without measurable snowfall. I shoveled once, a paltry 5 inches that was barely worth the effort. Sure, it was cold, but if it’s that cold, you might as well be in a snow-dusted fairly land. I measured close to 14 inches at my house Thursday evening, after shoveling twice, and still I wasn’t done – the final Thursday plow drove by after I was back snugly inside my house. So Friday morning I again skipped my workout to tackle the icy snow at the end of my driveway.
I often react to a forecast of deep snow with a public sense of horror, but that’s just me making a snow pile out of a dusting. At heart, I love winter: the air is invigorating; the snow drifts beautiful. I don’t ski, but only my still-shaky left ankle is keeping me off my snowshoes this weekend.
I lived once in a two-season city. I missed the crimson and yellow leaves and crisp local apples of fall, the gratitude for a warm, brilliantly sunny day in the midst of a cold, gray January. Strawberries taste sweeter then they’re only fresh and from your back yard for two weeks a year.
Outside my kitchen window lies a heap of fallen snowflakes, indistinguishable from one another by the naked eye. But for a few glorious hours, they were suspended together in midair, in spectacular impossibility. Who says winter’s not magical?