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Jana Lee Frazier Headshot

Snow Dance

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I can't wait for winter. The sort of winter I fell in love with as a child. I
love the unapologetic honesty of the season, the spare trees scoured clean of leaves after
autumn's gloriously gaudy show. I miss the surprise of a first look at the land after a
fresh fall of snow, in the hush of morning before peoples' footprints and shovels mar the
magic. When man's mistakes of litter and graffiti and neglect lay erased in those
breathtaking moments, before the plows come and the midday sun melts.

I mourn for that magic that I didn't get enough of last year, and worry that prevailing
wind patterns of the approaching season will keep the cold too far north, and the snowfall
scant. Call me crazy, but mid December through mid March are my favorite months of
the calendar. Blame it on my romantic mother. The very first memory I have of my life
is of being lifted out of a warm sheltering doorframe into a dizzying, dazzling realm of
silver and white, where an invigorating wind took my breath away. I was three years
old. The dull dun earth I had gone to bed to, had been reborn.

The trees were coated in crystal; the world wore a wedding gown. Some ridiculously
delicious spell had been cast overnight while I was dreaming of other things. I will never
forget the feeling of having been given a present, that to be out in the shimmer and swirl
was like having been invited to a party better than my birthday. There were mysteries
in the tracks of rabbits and raccoons, the droppings of squirrels so seldom seen now
steaming on the carpet of white before me, the tiny etchings of mice tails and pheasant
feet. And in the exquisite sequined sparkle of a perfectly-formed flake on my mitten. I
recall my mother, only in her housedress and slippers, joining me to dance in the drifts.

Today I long for the feeling of walking into a room from the frigid outdoors and having
the warmth greet me like a hug. In the heat of summer I have missed the pull of the
fireplace on a snowy night, the feeling of the hearth being the very heart of the house,
dogs draped across the tiles in drowsy stupor, a shawl across my shoulders and a book in
my lap. And the ensuing sensation of shelter, of haven, that is close to sublime. I miss
watching the dogs watching it snow, their heads cocked to the side, eyes to the heavens
marking the rhythm of the falling flakes with measured breaths. And then releasing them
out into the unrelenting blizzard to witness the hilarity of their irrepressible bliss.

I have missed iridescent icicles dangling from the eaves and spruces, draped in sheaths of
diamond-studded frost. The dark wings of Canada geese against a gauzy snow-laden
sky, their passage a presage of an on coming squall, their graceful, earnest progress a kind
of prayer. Fresh, hot coffee in my car after clearing the windshield, the gratitude that
swells inside me for the gift of the warm gloves from my daughter, the cozy comfort of
my angora, grape-hued scarf around my neck, the leathery smell of my well-worn boots.

Everything tastes better in winter. Vegetables simmering in a stew have a pungency and
a solace that a salad seldom has; the making of bread gives my hands a holy chore. The
sharp air is effervescent; the stark black and white world makes every suggestion of color
a cause for celebration. And so I yearn for the sight of blood-red cardinals and jet-black
crows on bright satin snow. And silly snowmen with nowhere to go, who don't know or care
that life is short, whose presence make it impossible to believe that the world could be a bad
place to live. And deer gathering in the gloaming to eat the corn in the cold at my bird
feeder.

I admit I am biased, prejudiced even, but I simply cannot understand why so many people
dislike winter so. Why they shriek at the weather reports forecasting snow, stockpiling
canned goods from the supermarket as though engaged in a siege with some formidable
foe, and regarding flurries as nuclear fallout. Why forecasters cringe when predicting a
storm, as if they are breaking the bad news of an approaching pestilence. But perhaps this
will change as the Earth becomes warmer, and winter wanes and snow itself becomes an
endangered species.

Winter should be a time of resting as the Earth rests, for finding the special blessings of
being fallow, a necessary and welcome spiritual sabbatical from the stress of hectic,
warm-weather pursuits. It could be a season of freedom from the relentless schedules of
modern life, a reason to think and plan and play with our kids and our animals and
friends and family we see too infrequently. And maybe, instead of bracing against the
blizzard, we could learn to embrace it, relax into the surprisingly rich heart of the storm.
But I worry that climate change will someday make the season's three month stay a
tenure of tepid rain. Before my love affair with winter has a chance to run its course.

Don't get me wrong. When spring arrives in earnest, I will be the last person to turn
my back on its own particular brand of beauty. But I will still wish that the winter had
lasted longer, and feel bereft and left wanting for the snow and wind and wonder, and for
the authentic chance to dance.