An Old-fashioned Winter

If Winter Comes....


And on it goes —

And on it goes. There were lots of predictions of a rough winter already last fall:  the hairy caterpillars have such heavy coats and the stripe down their backs is so thick! The acorn crop is so abundant, and the squirrels are just running around gathering them up!  And the simplest of all: it was so hot this summer that we’re sure to have a really cold winter!

The fall foliage almost managed a really spectacular season, scarlets blazing and yellow blaring like brasses in a marching band — but early chill windstorms in November brought down the brightest and left behind the duller olds golds and faded browns. I for one felt cheated. But there’s no complaint department in Mother Nature’s store.


When we first moved up here, all autumn our friends and acquaintances, especially those from Long Island, kept asking us, What will you do for the winter? How will you manage in the winter? We’d answer quite truthfully, We don’t know. We’ll find out. (Didn’t stop them from asking, though.)

We managed that first winter, when the first snowstorm arrived on Thanksgiving Day and a major snowstorm or blizzard partnered every major holiday through President’s Day. And we’ve managed every winter since then, thanks to the staff of our condo. They’re  diligent and hardworking and patient about keeping the condo roads open and shoveling us out. The local highway department deserves credit, too. Main roads are open quickly after storms, making possible our ten-minute run up to Lenox for supplies, so we haven’t gone hungry yet. The newspaper guy manages to make it through almost every single morning, and for the very few times he can’t, hey, he’s entitled.


So we’re managing. Of course, in a blizzard, no one really manages. It’s too huge, it’s overwhelming. In photographs of Times Square during last month’s blizzard the streets are empty, all traffic stopped. A great city waits, hushed, for the storm to end, impotent against it. (It remained impotent for days afterward, garbage waiting forlorn on the sidewalks for trucks that never appeared.) For a while the true scale of the universe was revealed. In a blizzard we can relax into our true natures, our proper proportions, and experience something our world is sadly in need of: humility.

It seems to me that most of the evils in the world today, as they have always been, are caused by lack of humility. I don’t need to spell that out further, do I?

What blizzards — and earthquakes and hurricanes and tornadoes and tsunami, all awesome natural phenomena — represent are the overwhelming forces of Nature. They are so much bigger than we are, they dwarf our human pretensions, mock our self-importance, cut us down to our true size. They dwarf even our villainies — and we are masters of villainy. Masters of the Universe? What arrogance!

So let us rejoice in our blizzards and be glad. And anyway, it’s promised us by Shelley, and  by our own experience, and by the advancing light, itself a sign of hope:

If winter comes, can spring be far behind?

Can Spring be Far Behind?

This entry was posted in Etcetera, Personal Essay, winter and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to An Old-fashioned Winter

  1. Therese Bertsch says:

    A beautiful reflection on a chilly morning. It somehow gathers us all in, in a second look at nature and the ways in which we are bound together in our common humanity. Everything is to be shared; nothing is really owned. We walk together on the beautiful journey of life with Mother Nature. I particularly like your honoring of the working person who clears away the obstacles and barriers of our common everyday life with their plows and shovels and reaching across snow patches to bring the world to us at our front doors in the news of the day.


    • Touch2Touch says:

      It’s been so much more apparent here than it was on Long Island, here, where we’re so much more dependent on “the kindness of strangers” to make our ways straight in the wilderness of snow, and with all the things of everyday life all year around. Thanks for commenting, Therese.


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