Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Snow - I'm Really NOT Ready

We're getting our first snow of the season. It will be light, only a dusting and gone by noon, and it really will only stick to the grassy areas. But still - it's our first snow of the season and I'm NOT ready.

Snowfall can be beautiful, but I'm really not ready for winter yet.

I'll be the first to admit that there is something lovely about a pristine sunrise over untouched snow, but snow in the city isn't really like that. Snow in the city is pretty for about ten seconds before it devolves into a quagmire of dirt, pollution, and general trash. That's not to say that there is garbage on the streets - absolutely not. We are not living in the Middle Ages when rats were our daily companions and garbage piled up in every lane. The suburb I live in has lots of open space, beautiful homes (older but quite nice) and broad streets. But when new snow hits our concrete jungles it just doesn't have the same ambiance as snow falling on fields and streams in rural areas.

Sunrise over pristine snow is stunning. 

At least that's the inner vision - the dream perpetuated by illustrators for more than a century. This is the vision that we share based on hundreds of pictures and holiday cards featuring snow-filled streets with warmly-lit lanterns, sleighs with happy horses pulling them, and children joyfully flinging themselves down hillsides on their sleds or skating on the local ice-locked ponds. That's the snow dream.

Thomas Kinkade was a modern painter with a nostalgic feel to his
snow scenes. How peaceful this lovely scene is - almost bucolic. 

The snow reality rarely intersects with the dream. The snow reality is shoveling or snow blowing to be able to get the car out of the garage, then joining the slow drive up poorly plowed streets to the main thoroughfares. Those streets are usually well tended and salted so that any difficulties in driving usually only come about at the intersections where the plows from one direction leave ridges to be forded by the perpendicular traffic flow. The snow becomes dirty quickly and soon it just looks drab and grey, not sparkling and inviting.

Snow plows are essential in the cities and on the main roads in rural areas. We
no longer have horses and sleighs to hook up to them. It's a shame, in a way.
There is something so nice about horse transportation. 

The "hills" here have already started making snow so that the ski areas can open for weekend traffic. I have to admit that I am still bewildered, even after more than 30 years of living up here, why skiing would be popular in an area with no mountains. I could understand it if it was cross-country skiing, which is also quite popular in Minnesota. But no, it is downhill skiing that is popular. How can a place with no vertical drop have skiing? I'll never understand it.

Although I'm not ready for winter, it's coming to me whether I want it or not.
And it can be one of the most beautiful seasons of the year. Just look at this
stunning forest after a blowing storm. Just gorgeous. 

So, as I bundle up in an hour and leave, we'll be getting a light snow fall turning to sleet and then to rain. What will fall during my morning commute will be gone by my evening commute and won't return for several more days. But it's a wake-up call. We're running out of time.

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