The Heaviness of Snow

Snow is a heavy burden to bear.

It’s just past midwinter and there are feet of snow on the ground and the rooftops. Buildings and people groan beneath the weight. The first snowstorms broke trees, their dismembered limbs still lying at odd angles in the snow. Shrubs and gardens, once lush with bright exuberance, now lie stripped and lifeless beneath a thick shroud. Nearly every morning of late, here in the uplands, we start our days with less fence posts and pathways, vaster fields and narrower roads as the snow continues to fall. The whole world seems to lie silenced beneath a white pall.

Then the metal instruments come out, shovels digging and flinging, scraping slush, chipping ice; machines snort and grumble, roar, push, blow, and tear. And the snow, mild, yielding, moves with the metal and gears, gives even to the eager fingers of a child – but it will not be destroyed. Vehicles slip and slide, get stuck in the piles of snow, trains grind to a halt, schools and businesses shut down, and all of life seems to be about the weather and what it’s left behind, foot upon foot, everywhere.

Every human being has an opinion on it, for none who call New England home can permanently escape it, and some call it a curse, a burden, a punishment, a breaker of hearts and wills – while others call it an awe-inspiring beauty, a blessing, a character shaper, an amusing ordeal that our days and our slumbers should be surrounded by snow and the snowing of snow. The innocent among us, those with the least responsibilities, are those that seem to enjoy this Winter burden the most. The more mature response, however, for those who are grave, is a longing, a whining, a frantic desire, a need to return to “normalcy”.

Snow is relentless.

Here for the Winter it is, unstoppable, indomitable… until the inevitable Spring. Then, our hard burden of snow, against which so many of us have fought so fiercely, will simply melt into the ground. The dormancy of the natural world will awaken with the melting. Furry animals in burrows, the roots of forests, the shoots of woodlands, and the seeds of meadows will have rested well beneath quilt upon quilt of fallen snow, protected from the brutally cold air. When the snowflake covers are pulled off, layer by layer, they will awaken, exposed and roused to life again. The melting snow will trickle and flow, softening the earth, cleansing away looseness and debris, and seeing us through the mud to the warm, heaving splendor of summer days, hot and ripening. The extravagance of tender new life putting forth a rich variety of blossoms, in every color, and of insects and animals, flying and creeping and leaping in the sun. The heavy burden of snow will become the heavy blessing of snow – for from it comes the burgeoning of flower and fruit, bright, beautiful, and bountiful.

Snow is a heavy blessing to bear.

How many periods of our lives are dormancy? A weight of stillness, a wait of stillness, a heavy burden…. And how many periods of our lives are an awakening? The heavy pall laid upon us, not to keep us in the tomb, but to allow a miraculous renewal of life to transpire….

In the Winters of our lives… those times when our normalcies vanish like walkways beneath the snow and we are weighed down…. what do we do then? Do we allow the stillness and look around us, being grateful and learning patience? Do we take the quiet and listen to our souls, feeding the good roots of our hearts, helping to carry the burden with those who are weaker, taking stock of what is most important – and remembering all of this when comes the Spring?

© 2015 Christina Chase

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