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Archive: 17 January 2004

Drifting Thoughts

It snowed all day today.  For the most part, the flakes drifted gently and steadily downward, but every now and then a burst of wind and snow would blur everything around the house.  At those moments, white streamers of blown snow curled from the edges of rooftops all up and down the street.  It was a beautiful day, and every time I looked outside I couldn’t imagine living anywhere that such a sight would be impossible.  To me, winter is profound in a way no other season quite manages, and I’m not sure that I could be truly happy without it.

But of course the price of such beauty is the clearing of driveway and sidewalk, and just as twilight approached the snowfall tapered off, so I went out, shovel in hand.  The fading light, as filtered through the overcast skies, was a pale indescribable bluish gray, subtly erasing shadows and imparting the faintest hint of extra radiance to everything around me.  As I worked, the light faded to a pale red, and then to dull orange, the mark of sodium-vapor streetlights all over the city scattering off of the ever-present cloud cover.

In a strange sort of gloomy synergy, the sun over northern Ohio disappears behind a persistent cloud cover just as Daylight Savings Time elapses, and doesn’t return until the clocks spring forward.  So not only do we have the earliest sunset times, but also the shortest days of the year, right at the point where the sun is almost perpetually absent.  From October to May, we are one of the least sunny cities in America—but for the rest of the year, we’re one of the sunniest.  The phrase “you can’t appreciate the light without the dark” takes on special meaning when you live here.

As is so often the case, the snow deadened all noise, so that the neighbor running his snowblower a few houses away sounded like he was half a mile distant.  After a while, the snow’s muffling quality worked its way into my heart, quieted my thoughts.  It always does.

With night finally upon me, as the wind gusted and I paused to pull my Webmonkey hat down to better cover my ears, a sharp scent flared my nostrils.  Someone nearby had lit a wood fire—a strangely autumnal scent in the cold winter air.  I took a few deep breaths, enjoying the odd mixture of seasonal sensations.  Then I bent back to my work.

I don’t have any profundities that came out of all this; I didn’t gain some deep insight into myself, my life, or my fellow man.  All I got was a cleared driveway and piled snowbanks, a slightly sore back, and a hot dinner waiting for me when I was done.  It seemed like enough—like more than enough.  So I decided to share some of it.

January 2004
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