It is the second day of spring, a season for which, year after year, I fall hard and fast in love. But the only thing falling hard and fast today is the snow.
Even the 10-day forecast looks dismal, in spite of the cheery delivery of the pregnant meteorologist who somehow still looks gorgeous on TV. Bitterly, I note her cute maternity dresses and lack of evident swelling, and like a grisly officer scoffing at a soft recruit, I wonder if pregnancy has recently relaxed its standards. The long winter is really starting to affect my outlook.
While I can admit that the meteorologist does look pretty, I cannot bring myself to say the same about the snow, which is really starting to come down. That miracle day in February at the beach, temperatures climbing impossibly into the 70s – was it only a dream? Can it be just last week that we had those first spring-like days, the evenings stretching a little brighter with the time change, the birds beginning to announce their presence? It felt like promise – didn’t it? – that the long, dreary winter was nearly over, that warm relief was on its way.
And now, this.
A late-March snow is not like a friendly December snow, with its festive calls to Gather in! and Be of good cheer! and maybe even Enjoy a holiday cocktail! A spring snowstorm is all betrayal and backsliding and broken promises. The return of a debt you were sure you had paid, the loss of ground you’d worked hard to gain.
I wish suddenly that I’d bought that book about hygge, instead of just leafing through it at the book store. Everything about the Danish concept of cozy in-the-moment mindfulness, a tool to survive long winters, had appealed to me. But I had not bought the book, because I was a rush, and also I thought the price tag was steep for what appeared to be such a simple concept. I speed-read what I could at the counter, figuring I could glean the life-changing gist of it. In the abstract and in glossy pictures, long, cozy winters in a minimalist farmhouse-chic aesthetic felt like something I could get behind, and I planned enormous, sweeping lifestyle changes. I would employ more candles in my daily life, their dancing yellow flames adding welcome comfort in the dim light. I would forgo my beloved insta-hot for the ritual of a tea kettle. I would again commit to elaborate knitting projects of gorgeous, Norwegian patterns; I would read more books. I would definitely stop wasting so much time scrolling online.
It is clear – and not altogether surprising – that, following this half-hearted epiphany, what I actually changed was absolutely nothing. Talk about your backsliding, your broken promises.
The same thing happened with that book about life-changing Japanese tidying-up a few years ago. I did read some of it – the beginning, mostly – and got very, very good at identifying which items in my home and closet bring me joy and which do not. But I do not know what comes after that; I never actually did anything about it. My closet is still partially filled with clothes I never wear, and do not even like. My sock drawer is a disaster.
It is enough to make me wonder about costs I am willing to pay, and ones I randomly declare too dear. It reminds me of the importance of small changes, instead of sweeping ones. It makes me wonder – and again, I am reluctant, and a little bitter – if this winter has come back to me a teacher.
I’m still not happy about this spring snowstorm. But I’ve lit a candle this morning, and it’s the monogrammed one which was thoughtfully gifted to me by a friend years ago but has sat dark on my shelf since. (It always seemed “too nice” to actually use.) With the TV off and the house quiet, I open the book of short stories I enjoy when I can get to it. I am soon distracted by the birds are flitting around my side door in the storm, looking desperately for food, for a way to survive the long winter they surely felt in their tiny bird-bones was over. I find a forgotten bag of bird food in the mudroom – when and why did I stop feeding the birds? – and I spread it out for them and hope they’ll find it in time. Out of nowhere, in the silent snow, I hear it softly in my head – “Tuppence, tuppence a bag” – perhaps my first known mindfulness teacher, Mary Poppins, reminding my adult self of the simplest of things, the tiniest of costs. “All it takes is tuppence from you.”
I hope it will be the sustenance the birds and I are looking for. The cost is small – just tuppence – but it might be just enough to get us through.