What to Do With Winter (or, "Less Bears, More Angels")

Winter is a little bit nicer when it only comes around once every few years. It passed us by in Saudi Arabia. It's all right. There aren't too many people interested in visiting Saudi Arabia. I guess I can't blame winter for not being interested either. Maybe winter figures it's got better places to go. Austria or Slovenia. Jasper. Someplace where they know what to do with it.

Grace in the winter. 2015.
It doesn't snow a lot in the winter where we live this year, which makes it feel like your birthday when it does, or at least your half-birthday. In the afternoon on a Tuesday the snow came for an hour. I watched it through the window when I should've been doing something more professional. It was like thick, white rain coming down in slow motion, falling so gentle that maybe you could thread your way between the big wet flakes, zigzag across the whitening grass and dodge every last bit of snow and get back inside as dry as when you left. That's not a very professional thing to think. But professionals probably ought to spend more time contemplating the snow, I suspect. Probably that way we'd have less Arthur Andersen and Bear Stearns and more snow angels and rosy cheeks. I can't think of too many people who would complain about that kind of world.

We used to drive up the mountain in the winter when I was young. It was always raining in the valley -- Portland is like that -- but Dad got us on the winding road uphill and pretty soon the strip malls and car dealerships would thin out and pine trees would start to crowd the highway and the rain splattering on the windshield would turn slushy, and then you pushed past the freezing level and all the cold raindrops in the gray sky would suddenly explode into snowflakes, billions of them, whirling and hurtling like the biggest and coldest and most chaotic ballet you ever saw. Dad would smack the steering wheel sometimes when the snow started flying and say something forgettable to me like, "Oh boy, Joey!" Except I never have forgotten.

Funny how that works. After awhile I probably won't remember reports I wrote or much of the work I did that earned a paycheck, but it will be hard for me to forget the sound of snowflakes plinking the windshield. The taste of the car heater. All the forgettable things that people say from the driver's seat on long ago Tuesdays in long ago winters.