On Friday comes the biggest storm of the season thus far, the snow beginning in the evening hours and continuing unabated throughout the night. In the morning there’s a solid 10 inches on the ground and snow still falls. Historically speaking, there’s nothing unusual about a storm like this in early March, but this winter has been so consistently warm and weak that it somehow feels like a breach of contract, the promise of an easy glide into spring rudely revoked.
It takes me nearly three hours to clear our drive, plus the two others I tend. By the time I’m done, the sky has stopped spitting and is breaking into intricate patterns. I park the tractor, haul water to the cows, then stand for a moment under that fracturing sky, watching it separate into more shades of grey than I would have thought possible. So many colors within the one; so many different ways of seeing something I thought I knew exactly how to see.
Later, after the storm is long passed and all those shades of grey have faded from the sky, I ski into the woods to a spot where the yellow birch grow so big they don’t even look like yellow birch anymore, the bark turned brown and roughened by age, the trunks thick and branches twisted in improbable ways. I think the birches are like very old people: Hard to fathom but also strangely captivating, as if they’ve done something miraculous other than simply endure. As all of us must. As most of us do.
When I tire of breaking trail through the new snow, I turn back, now gliding easy in my own tracks, back past the yellow/brown birches and through a long sweep of young-ish maples. Dark coming on, but later than I’ve grown accustomed to, almost six o’clock and still plenty of light to see by.
Spring is close at hand. I can smell it on the air.