nose pressed to the window pane
dispatch from 02139 (in which “epic” — yes, epic, say the headline writers — hurri-blizzard blows in off the atlantic, and the winds begin to whistle their warning cry…)
it is a posture that pulls us back to long-ago days, days when you woke up to the cackle of a radio telling you school was closed, when you heard your mama down in the kitchen, not rustling the brown bags of school lunches in the making but rather cranking up the griddle for stay-home vittles.
it’s the posture of nose pressed to the window pane. it’s the posture of waiting. heart pumping. peering into the far-away-but-coming-closer.
it’s the posture of knowing adventure’s tucked behind the not-so-distant cloud. it’s awaiting mama nature. mama nature who, in the end and after all, rules over all her globe and sky, and every once in a while, reminds us of our humble place on earth.
so it is that i sit here, with windows east and south, keeping watch. the sky’s gone sooty gray. all shadow’s slipped away. the bird-seed tube that dangles just beyond the sill is rocking back and forth, making me a wee bit seasick if i stare too long.
this is the perfect perch for storm patrol, peering out beyond the rooftops, through the limbs of trees. i see smoke tendrils twirling up from chimney pots. i’ll soon gasp as tree trunks practice yoga bends.
winds at 85 miles per hour, the weatherman predicts. snows falling at the rate of four inches per hour. tumbling till they pile to three-feet-and-counting.
but, deary me, whooshing air at 85 m.p.h. up against flakes that weigh in at nothingness, it’s the equation for drifts the likes of which i’ve never seen. sounds like being a speck of milk inside a whirring blender. when someone clicks “puree.”
no wonder the sky-readers turned to their thesaurus to pull out a label for this blizzard. at last — after much office to and fro, i imagine — they decided to dub it “epic,” so epic it is, and epic we shall see.
it seems fitting, so fitting, that in this year of living sumptuously we — our little triangle of cambridge explorers — should endure spells of sumptuous weather. why, in just six months, there’s been one hurricane, one earthquake, and now this epic blizzard. good thing i packed my yellow rubber knee-high galoshes. i’ll be out trekking before this day is done.
for it’s one thing to inhale a storm from behind the glass, and wholly another what-the-heck to plant yourself amid the whirls and whoops.
why, you didn’t think life at veritas university would slow for any old avalanche of snow, did you? mais non! classes are marching on, clear through the morning. and at high noon, we’re being called to what promises to be a spine-tingling talk with a mexican journalist who risks her life — and aims to protect her compatriot periodistas — telling the truth about the drug wars that have torn apart her homeland.
for marcela turati, who dodges death threats and machine gun bullets on a daily basis, i can dodge a few flying snowflakes. even if they whirl at never-before-observed velocities.
other than that one arctic exposition, we’re hunkered down for the duration. we’ve all the essentials: popcorn, apples, soup. extra blankets, just in case. a fat cat who loves to curl beside our undulations. we’ve neighbors down below and just across the way, should we need to draw in the wagons — or trade one last drop of milk for one slab of vienna pastry (the doctor down below happens to be a fiendish baker, and the buttery vapors that slink up through the floorboards are enough to have me drooling at his door).
fact is, if you’re going to call yourself a bostonian for the year, you’d better weather a tried-and-true nor’easter’. i’d hate to amble home a pretender, head bowed in shame for having shirked a little tussle with the snow clouds that whirl in off the atlantic.
so far, with 14 minutes till the bewitching hour, there’s not a flake in sight. i’ll sit here for a few more hours, tomes piled to my left, eyes trained on the graying skies, waiting, waiting.
alert to what the heavens offer up today. and tuned in to how the human spirit pitches and dives along with all the whirling, swirling, dumping.
it’s front row to one celestial theatre. and right now, the players must be in the wings, clearing throats, slipping on their costumes. any moment, the curtain’s due to rise…
do you love snow days? odd weather days? what is it about the chance to draw in, simmer kettles of soup, slither into our snuggliest sweaters? three stories off the ground, i feel as if i’m in a tree fort, with the best seat in the house. if it gets outlandishly exciting here, i’ll be back to record the weather dramas. for now, be safe, be warm, and thanks for pulling up a chair.
in the spirit of my beloved helen vendler poetry class, perhaps i ought to dig for a poem to mark this snowy occasion……any submissions out there?
during the night, under the street lamp out my office window….that little bump down there, that’s a car on its way to being buried…
and come morning, here’s what befell the back deck. those chairs are hard-edged, with sharp corners. until the snow, they had no undulations. now they do….
I too love snuggling in for a good snowstorm. Enjoy and be safe, and send us updates!
Snow Toward Evening,Melville Cane
Suddenly the sky turned grey,
Which had been bitter and chill,
Grew soft and still.
From some invisible blooming tree
Millions of petals,cool and white
Drifted and blew,
Lifted and flew,Fell with the falling night.
beautiful! thanks, mama. how’d you find that so fast? do you not love that my mama and moi have the same name, which over the years has made for confusion. it is no longer still — as in quiet — here. verily, it’s starting to howl…
All I can say is, we’re jealous! We are a snow day family whose greatest winter memories are of the blizzard of 2010. Be snug!
Love the poem from your mama. Hope soon you are snuggled back in after your romp across campus. Stay safe! Hope your boys get home soon and you can all hunker in for the weekend. It’s lovely here — the wet snow from yesterday coating all the trees. Winter finally arrived … in February!
By Mary Oliver
all the singing is in
the tops of the trees
where the wind-bird
with its white eyes
shoves and pushes
among the branches.
Like any of us
he wants to go to sleep,
but he’s restless—
he has an idea,
and slowly it unfolds
from under his beating wings
as long as he stays awake.
But his big, round music, after all,
is too breathy to last.
So, it’s over.
In the pine-crown
he makes his nest,
he’s done all he can.
I don’t know the name of this bird,
I only imagine his glittering beak
tucked in a white wing
while the clouds—
which he has summoned
from the north—
which he has taught
to be mild, and silent—
thicken, and begin to fall
into the world below
like stars, or the feathers
of some unimaginable bird
that loves us,
that is asleep now, and silent—
that has turned itself
Oh, Mary O., Mary O., so beautiful…
“…begin to fall…like stars, or the feathers of some unimaginable bird/ that loves us…” Sigh…
Sent from my iPhone
I once read (in Outside magazine, I think) that the best place to be in a storm is outside. Dressed for the weather, of course. But tucked into a windowseat is nice, too. Bam, if I were throwing a snowbound party, you’d be at the top of my invitation list!
i was out earlier in the day, before anyone flicked on the immersion blender. which we are now deep inside. it’s vichyssoise out there, all white with chunks of what could be white potato.
i hear nothing but the howls of wind, the occasional scrape of shovel against walk, and once in a while the thud of the passing snowplows.
it was so bewildering — in a lovely way. shortly before the snows grew thick i heard a solo bird calling out what sounded like a war cry. “duck for cover,” he might have been bellowing to his flocked friends.
my feets are itching to get out there. but i’m afraid of things klonking on my head, so i’ll stay put till the winds die down….somewhere around mid-morning…..
As I am reading this, the wind is howling outside, the temperature is dropping and the snow is due to fall at any moment. I love snowy days when the windows frost up and and the snow falls down. Sending warm, tight hugs … snuggle up!
P. S. You, your mama and MY mama all share that blessed name. xoxo
i so love snowy days too. i do remember that thrill of realizing that my mother had not woken us up, my dad had not hurried off to work, the yummy smell of grandpa’s pancake recipe coming up from the kitchen.
mmmm. snow day! rare but real at least once a year. in very hilly, little rock arkansas it only took 3 inches not 36 inches for that radio announcement, that state of emergency to be declared.
oh goodness, one of my favorite professor friends here in cambridge just, out of the blue, sent me this poem for today. it made me swoon, i am guessing it might swoon you too….
Snow, by Louis MacNeice
The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was
Spawning snow and pink roses against it
Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
World is suddener than we fancy it.
World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.
And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes–
On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one’s hands–
There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.