January Thaw

Our nice layer of snow was completely destroyed by a patch of ridiculously warm weather bearing rain. What an outrage. The great consolation of winter is snow, its sparkle, its grace, the way it covers a multitude of discards and errors, its enormous blankness like a big, empty, brand new notebook. Dead grass showing through is an old draft. I want clean pages of deep snow, reflecting and magnifying the thin winter sunlight.

Because, come on, we know it’s not spring yet. Stop fooling around.

But this morning there’s a scrim of fresh snow on the ground, and cold enough to keep it there. I feel better. Seed catalogs have been sliding into my mailbox for weeks now, and as long as the snow’s on the ground all things are possible: tomatoes guaranteed to laugh at every blight, wilt, and virus known to man; pink marigolds, green zinnias, ruffled cosmos; long vines full of tiny jack-be-little pumpkins; roses safe from deer. The simple dreams of a gardener.

It’s easier to enjoy them, of course, while I sit on the warm side indoor winter gardenof the window, with my cup of cocoa and my indoor plants. The narcissus is about done and the amaryllis are starting. Geraniums, rosemary, and poinsettias are vacationing in their private tropical island, and will go home to the deck come May. But it’s that slice of snow you see in the middle distance that brings me a happy, settled sense that the world, despite all rumors to the contrary, is going on as it should.

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