Sunday, February 15, 2015

I'm sitting in the light of the setting afternoon sun. It's 5 o'clock, and the sun is just starting to set. I can feel the warmth move across my body. First warming my hands and knees. A strange, vaguely familiar sense. And now a cooling. My knees are cool again, my hands shaded and chilling. The sun moves so quickly on these days. A brief visitor, in a hurry to see other things, other people.

It's 29 degrees F. Later this week it will drop below zero. It's cold! We still have drifts from last week's snowstorm, despite a few warm days and lots of sun.

A February snowstorm is different from a December snowstorm. December snowstorms bring darkness and a sense of a narrowing tunnel. In February a snowstorm just signals the start of the end of winter.

It has something to do with the length of time already spent in winter, and the lengthening days, both of which do something to internal body temperature. The dryness of the first of winter yields way to the humidity of snow-covered ground at its end. Your body acclimates to the cold, and the warmth of longer days brings you to a peaceful middle ground. A trip out to the barnyard in February doesn't chill you to the bone like it can in December, mostly because it doesn't pierce your soul with a 4PM sunset.

A snowstorm in February is a kind of afterthought. A warm week at the end of January leaves everything sodden and muddy (below), and then a storm in the first weeks of February turns the earth white as snow (above--yes, this is out of order). How beautiful, you can say, snow.

We had a few warm days earlier, so a lot of the snow from the latest storm melted, rearranged itself, seeped into the ground. Things are turning back to mud, muck. Now it's all refrozen and we're heading into the last dredges of winter--the dreary, bleak, mud and frozen muck part of winter. 

But it's February, and the sun sets a little later, every, single, day.

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