The beginning of the big, sad thaw

The unappealing mix of ice chunks and slush collecting beneath the eaves of my house.

The unappealing mix of ice chunks and slush collecting beneath the eaves of my house.

There are these chunks of ice, about an inch in length, up to maybe half an inch in breadth, raining down onto the icy coating covering my lawn. At first, it appears to me yet another variety of precipitation. But it’s coming from the trees. The steady clatter these things produce on my roof is accompanied by a liquid drip from the eaves.

It’s 34 degrees Fahrenheit, and the melt has begun. Which always imparts to me a sense of loss. There was all this solid, stable beauty that forced us to take note of it, and now, far too soon, it’s disappearing.

That may seem perverse. It may sound like a guy who doesn’t want to go to work. But I can do most of my work from home, as long as there is electricity. That’s not it. Anyway, I’ve never experienced winter weather severe enough to prevent me getting to the office if I really need to. And during all my years working at newspapers, I always did go to work. But I still felt the sense of loss when the snow and ice started melting.

I think I’ve just not had enough ice and snow in my life to ever feel like I’ve had enough of it, to get to the point that I’m ready for it to go away.

Usually in my life, it has melted away before it even begins to stick. And then, on the rare of occasions when it does stick — and this is twice so far this season — you hardly have time to say, “It’s winter!” before the drip starts from the eaves, and the solid beauty has begun to die.

… a huge flurry of chunks just came down onto the roof just over my head. My home office is in and upstairs room…

I began life in South Carolina, and lived in Charleston and Bennettsville and Columbia until I was kindergarten age, when we moved to Norfolk. After Norfolk, we were in New Jersey for a year, and there I had a good bit of winter weather. I can remember walking to school — it was just across the street from the apartment complex where we lived — when the snow was nearly to my knees. But I was pretty short then.

We went to Bennettsville for Christmas that year, so I missed my one chance at a white Christmas. The closest I would some was when we had that snow on Boxing Day in 2010, the day before we left for England — and missed that blizzard they’d just had there.

I’m sort of the opposite of Rob McKenna the Rain God in Douglas Adams’ So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish — the lorry driver who is always driving through the rain that follows him everywhere. The snow generally avoids me. When it deigns to visit, it leaves before its welcome wears out, always. You might think of it as excessively polite.

It stayed away from me in most of the places I lived, as you’d expect — New Orleans; Tampa; Honolulu; Guayaquil, Ecuador. We got some in Jackson, TN, but it was always a big news story when we did. It was fairly routine in Wichita, but not so that I got tired of it. And I left Kansas as soon as I could for reasons unrelated to the weather. Although the incessant wind may have played a role in my eagerness to leave.

So anyway, here it is already above freezing, and it’s going away. And odd as it may seem, I hate to see this.

The icy debris that fell from trees, littering my sidewalk.

The icy debris that fell from trees, littering my sidewalk.

3 thoughts on “The beginning of the big, sad thaw

  1. Kathryn Fenner

    Seven years in Chicago and seven in Maine left me seeing wintry precipitation as more of an annoyance, or worse, than a magical interlude…a little soft snow is fine, but much more than that, no thanks.

  2. Doug Ross

    Twenty five years in Massachusetts and New Hampshire (including the blizzard of 1978 that shut the state down for a week) were enough for me. I don’t care if I see another snowflake again – except in two weeks when I go to the Iditarod. Give me a tropical ocean view any day of the week.

    Just drove from Charlotte to Blythewood. I77 was amazingly clear from about exit 75 on down. Normal highway speeds were fine. Now, the last couple miles of backroads once I got off were another story,


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