Fire and Ice

A hundred shades of green flushing across the trees, an errant yellow daffodil, pink and white blossoming fruits – the colors of spring are as delicate as they are welcome. Little wonder, then, that a primary celebration of spring – the Christian festival of Easter – should be a season of pastels. Easter baskets, dyed eggs, little girls’ dresses, greeting cards and candies are awash in lilac and lemon, baby-cheek pink, soft peach and plum.

Even those who don’t celebrate Easter as a religious occasion enjoy the profusion of new life it heralds, the verdant growth and wash of color after the long, monotoned winter. It’s always fun to track the seasons as they saunter about the country and Spring is especially interesting, walking hand-in-hand as she does with a companion called “seasonal jealousy” – the anguished longing of still-snowbound folk forced to watch their more-southerly friends luxuriate in the rising warmth.

But spring is more complex than luscious color and delicate growth. A time of transition, it also brings destruction, the inevitable result of implacable, colliding forces. Winter refuses to yield. Spring will not be denied. Tornados, ice jams, flooding and hail result and become the breaking news of the day.  This year, Texas added fire to the mix, a deadly consequence of the same extended drought which eliminated so many of the state’s celebrated bluebonnets.

With friends living both in Canada and across Texas’ drought-stricken plains, it’s been impossible not to think of this year’s spring as a season of fire and ice. Extraordinarily late thaws and extraordinarily early drought are a strange combination, one that evokes Robert Frost’s famous juxtaposition. Continue reading

Waiting for Snow

Anyone living in the swath of snow now stretching from Oklahoma to Illinois to New York, anyone who still is digging out from the storms that affected hundreds of communities across the country, could be forgiven for calling us crazy.

While they cope with feet of snow and the problem of where to put it, we’re fixated on breathless local forecasters and their obsessive reports on our “winter blast”, a weather event capable of bringing Life As We Know It to its knees. We’ve already received freezing rain. There are suggestions we may receive an inch – even two! – of sleet and snow in a few more days. They suggest we pay attention, and pay attention we do.

Of course we look silly to the outside world, but we know our limitations. Many of us don’t know how to drive in snow. We don’t know how to walk on ice. Our pipes are exposed to the weather and our plants begin to shrivel when temperatures dip below 40 degrees. We don’t have ice scrapers for our windshields or snow shovels for our walks. We don’t carry kitty litter in the trunks of our cars and we certainly don’t have de-icer for locks.  Not only that, we don’t dress right and we get cold. We’re the very definition of “wuss”. Continue reading