Sunday, December 16, 2007

Nor'easter inspiration

I love snowstorms.

Perhaps it is the fact that for the first time, I own one of those wonderful, knee-length, quilted coats that makes one feel invincible in the cold.

Perhaps it is the fact that I am a hot yoga enthusiast, and the intense cold is the best possible foil for the fabulous heat I feel inside the studio.

Perhaps it is the fact that I now have a dog, and he loves fresh-fallen snow; he loves to jump in it and dig in it, kicking up big skiffs and making lumpen snow-angels as he staggers drunkenly through the drifts.

Perhaps it is the fact that I have not driven a car for over a year, and have forgotten what it's like to spend the morning warming up the engine, clearing off the wipers, digging out the driveway. (I simply put on my coat, walk out the door, and there is the train station, just down the stairs.)

Perhaps I am finally getting used to Boston winters.

Whatever it is -- I find snowstorms inspiring.

I love the cold rush of air after a languid morning spent inside in the heat. I drink it in; it is like cold icy water on a summer day. I love the moist sweaty mist that rises up out of my coat and gathers around my neck as I stomp through the snow, working up a sweat despite the cold flakes falling around me. I love the condensed moisture dripping from the tips of my bangs. I love the rosy cheeks on my reflection as I pass fogged-up windows. I love snuggling down into the scruff of scarf around my neck, peering out over the top at a world in white.

I love being inside during a storm as well. I love the sound of distant snowplows, early in the morning, charging past on the streets below us, flashing their lights. I love waking to the dim light of the morning on the dawn of a snowstorm, the sense that the sky is hanging low, the new frank coldness in the air inside our apartment. I love the patter of hard icy flakes on the windows as I stand inside, humming to the music I'm playing as I stand in stocking feet, frying up hash browns. I love curling up inside a blanket on my boyfriend's lap, snuggling like a child in the crook of his elbow, listening to the sound of the wind whining and the television humming, the earnest voices of the news programs speaking slowly, cheerfully. I love having an excuse to go back to bed, to pull the covers up under my chin, to bid the dog to come lay in my lap, and to read the last of a suspenseful book, one I might have saved for later if the snow had not come.

I always like an excuse to drop the usual routines of our shared adult life for something more innocent, languid and natural.

It was during a very serious snowstorm that my boyfriend and I decided to live together for the first time. I was living with a few friends from my freshman year, and it was not working out very well. I often spent nights at his tiny apartment in Beacon Hill, washing up with his rough men's soap, leaving bare-faced and wet-haired, changing into my own clothes once I returned to the dorm. I liked his place; his bed was soft and big, not narrow and hard like the ones in the dorm, and I never felt as though I might come face-to-face with a nasty note if I left a dish in the sink or a pair of shoes in the hallway. On this night, I had once again decided to stay, although I planned to come "home" in the morning.

During this snowstorm, we were literally trapped inside the apartment; in Beacon Hill, the plows come through rarely, and the streets are so narrow that when they do, the cast-aside snow piles up in enormous drifts. It is difficult to walk up or down the steep hills, and most businesses that serve the hill, being mom-and-pop establishments, simply close in the face of harsh weather. We had no where to go, and no reason to leave. So instead of going back to the dorm, I stayed with my boyfriend. I don't remember how we passed the time; perhaps we watched movies and made breakfast, perhaps we just lay in bed for most of the morning. I do know that in a moment of boredom and pent-up energy, we decided to re-arrange the furniture, and the result was inspiring: suddenly, there was twice as much room in the small space. Enough, we realized, for two.

In this way, snowstorms can have the potential to bring about major changes, important decisions, and spurts of resourcefulness. It is this resourcefulness that I like the best -- the sense that you must rely on yourself and what you have on hand to make things work. To me, it's as fun as using a house full of blankets to make a fort out of pillows. There's a childish, comfortable joy that comes from battening down the hatches, hiding out, making do. I will post soon about a project that came about today because of our most recent snowstorm. I am so happy that we had one today; in fact, I am almost always delighted when extreme weather forces us to seal ourselves off from the outside world and to be still. I don't think that we as civilized humans are forced to do this enough.

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