And it’s already snowing.
And I’m not prepared.
I don’t mean prepared with snow boots and snow shovels and ice for the driveway. I mean prepared in my head.
When I was a little girl I lived in western New York, which New Yorkers call “Upstate”, even though it’s not “up”, but more “to the left”. Between Rochester and the Finger Lakes, to be exact. If you like snow, that’s the place to be in winter: in a northern state, and east of a Great Lake. You want snow? You got it! The clouds travel over Lake Erie, picking up water as they go, and when they hit land.... bingo!... snow.
I was shorter then, so the snow probably seemed higher up my young legs. But it wasn’t just an illusion. The average snowfall for that part of the world is between 92 and 115 inches (2.3-2.9 m), with annual fluctuations. On a chart of the top 101 cities in the entire United States (Alaska included) having the highest average snowfall in a year, Numbers 1, 2, 4, and 7 through 12 are all in that general geographic area. So I knew about snow. When we moved to southeast Michigan, the snow seemed piddling in comparison.
And then I moved to Paris.
All of the sudden, no snow.
The very first year, I took a trip by car through northern France and across to London around Christmas time. To my amazement, the grass was still green. In the part of America that I’d left behind, grass disappeared before Santa arrived, not to reappear until spring, and even then it was a tired straw-colored yellow. Here the grass wasn’t growing, but it was still a lush green. In spite of the fact that Paris and London are at the same latitude as Labrador. As Yul Brynner said in The King and I: “Is a puzzlement!”
Over my thirty-some years in Paris, green winters were transformed from a puzzlement into the norm.
And then I moved back to Michigan for part of the year. Including part of the winter.
Which is why I’m sitting here, looking out the window, on the 14th of December, as the fifth snowfall of the year blankets everything in what is already 4 inches of snow... and will probably keep accumulating for 12 more hours.
Years ago, my daughter was born on tomorrow’s date and the window of the hospital was cracked open. A ladybug flew in and landed on the sheet as she came into the world... a sign of good luck in West Indies culture. The window will not be cracked open tomorrow. The sky will still be low, the thermometer as well.
Paris winters don’t usually involve snow. And when they do, the snow rarely lasts more than overnight, or occasionally a day or two. In 1970, it lasted a week and no one knew what to do. I was still fresh from my North American training so I found it only bothersome because I didn’t have the right boots and it was the slushy kind of late March snow that ruins shoes. I was living eight floors up then, in a tiny maid’s room with a view out over zinc rooftops the same grey color as the sky. It was just boring.
|My apartment hidden behind the snow tree|
Ah, ma brave dame, il n’y a plus de saisons! Yes, dear lady, the seasons have gone beserk!
But I’m just not ready for four months of this. And tomorrow there’s a snow shovel with my name on it so I can get to the mailbox to collect all those Christmas cards.
I think I’ll call the airlines to check on flights to Paris.