Complaining when it snows is strong evidence that you are growing older. What? You don’t look forward to how enchanting the landscape looks in fresh snow? What? You don’t get excited about a chance to watch kids, especially your grandchildren, sled down a hill? What? You’d rather sit by the fire than help make a snowman or a bowl of real snow dripping with chocolate syrup?
I am beginning to understand why some folks, after they retire, become snowbirds or, even more drastically, actually move permanently to places like Florida.
There are, of course, part-time winter havens down south for a few lucky locals who are able to close up shop and take off as soon as the ground freezes. Montaukers, in particular, are known for extended winter breaks in Puerto Rico or Tortola or Costa Rica (although they typically get back in time for the St. Patrick’s Day parade, which heralds spring in the heart — even if it technically takes place when it is still winter according to the calendar). I’m a little jealous, to be sure, even though I am getting away, too, this year. The thing is that I am foolishly going in the other direction: north to Nova Scotia, which is even colder than it is here, and besides has had more snow.
With a month of winter still to go, I find myself worrying about my four-legged neighbors. Watching from my window, I’ve seen our resident doe and her now-teenage offspring nosing into the snow to find whatever food may be underneath. I can’t imagine they find much. Witnessing their foraging has softened my previously hardhearted attitude toward the deer. I had intended to put wire fencing around our backyard camellias, for example, so that they could not continue to decimate the lower branches. But now I am almost glad I haven’t gotten around to it: In this deep winter of their discontent they are able to at least treat themselves to a few occasional glossy leaves (storm winds having knocked the camellias partway to the ground). The deer also have so have pulled one of the leafless rhododendrons out by its roots; I should be loading up the hunting rifle, but find it hard to blame them.
It is difficult to guess what climate change will bring for us here at home. Of course, it is a dystopian nightmare that the Arctic ice is melting, and that the habitat of polar bears is diminishing. But on a personal level, I have to admit that I have not been sorry to welcome Carolina wrens — which usually would not stray so far north — to our birdfeeders. We are told that climate change is already causing storms and hurricanes to be more extreme and dangerous. But does it mean we will see less snow in the future? Or will bad winter storms bring even more?
They tell me that in Nova Scotia, where I am due to arrive in a few weeks, the weather of the past few weeks has been extreme, indeed, bringing blizzard upon blizzard, hurricane-force winds, and snow drifts of positively Victorian proportions. I imagine a Currier and Ives scene.
Still and all, I do persist in believing that life in the north temperate zone, where we delight in the changing of the seasons, can’t be beat. Who doesn’t love a bright, sunny day with a good, hard frost, when the ponds freeze for ice-skating or ice-boating? But who am I kidding. The kids can tell me all about it when they come in for warm tea and cookies by the fire with grandma.