This is the day that comes every year for New Englanders, in which we all know that winter has overstayed its welcome.
I can see the blue plastic-wrapped New York Times, tantalizingly poised at the end of the driveway. Getting it would mean getting dressed, pulling on the wretched boots and then slip-sliding on treacherous ice, hidden by four inches of new snow. Gwynnie and I just cleaned the driveway yesterday – as best we could -- taking advantage of barely above freezing temps to chip away, with spade and shovel, like archeologists in search of black asphalt so we could stop slewing around the curves. So much for yesterday’s work.
Gareth, too, spent the better part of a morning digging out one of the cars that had slid across the stone barrier (now encased in ice) onto soft soil of a vague garden area that exists only as a twinkle in the eye of the landscape architect, no doubt off in some tropical clime.
Indoors, even the cats are grumpy. They have abandoned the dignity of the elderly to scrap like a pair of toddlers, tired of being housebound and deprived on the sensory stimulation of a quick morning trip outside. I offer them an open door just in case and they look at me as if I’ve lost my mind. I retaliate by noting they should have been replaced long ago with a nice retriever, who even now would be eagerly padding across the snow, fetching me my New York Times, insanely grateful for the chance to have been asked.
I’m tired of heating bills that go higher and higher. I am tired of a winter cold that will not end. I’m tired of power outages that seem to come with each new snowfall. I’m tired, too, of the ridiculous traffic on Mass Ave., only made worse by cops, which has occurred in part because there is nowhere to put the snow, and now there is no right lane. I’m tired of being a pedestrian, faced with climbing himalayas of snow mounds just to cross the street. Tired of having the edges of my pant legs caked with snow, ice and mud every day.
I’m tired of getting all those spring gardening catalogs, so welcome back in December, which merely taunt me now. I toss them with nary a look. The beautiful aquas of Florida, the apricot hues of Hawaii, these are not the New England colors of mid February.
Here, the snow sucks the color out of the atmosphere until even the evergreens are reduced to a nondescript dark. Our monochrome landscape is white and gray against various shades of “dark.”
I turn to astronomy in desperation. Sunrise comes a minute earlier each day now, sunset a minute later. Soon we will have 11 full hours of daylight. Time is on our side.
And, there is one more little thing which helps; a single sign of spring to which I am pinning all my hopes. My little indoor orange tree, all on its own, decided to put forth blossoms. We nearly lost it in the last power outage when the inside temperature fell to 40, so it had a week of vacation in Andie’s breakfast room. It lost a few leaves to the frost, but it is stubbornly clinging to its blossoms, which seem to grow each day.
As I cough, blow my nose, and apply more lip balm, I look forward to the little plant gradually opening its blossoms, which may pull me through this interminable winter.