Frozen water

Beck sat on the hardwood floor of the kitchen and stared out the glass window pane adjacent to the sliding door, watching the snowflakes that fell from the gray sky and landed softly on a thin blanket of white that now covered our grass. He stared intently, breathing steadily through his open mouth, momentarily mesmerized by the quiet scene before him, as if he had never seen snow before in his life.

And the truth is, he hadn't much seen it before. As much as I could figure, since he was born last summer he had witnessed himself only two snowfalls.

Still in my scrubs although I had been off work since noon, I slipped on my thick sorel snow boots and my husband's large gray hooded sweatshirt, pulling the hood over my head to keep the falling snow from soaking my freshly washed and dried hair. I slid open the back door and, leaving behind deep prints that blemished the beauty of an otherwise clean white blanket, I approached our two year old apple tree that had a soft layer of snow amidst the green buds perched on all angles of it's tiny branches. I pulled my phone from my pocket and snapped a few quick pictures of the apple tree, wiping the water droplets on my phone screen before slipping it back into my jacket pocket and walking back to the house.

Just before going inside, I turned and admired the beauty of the snow once more. I instantly regretted flawing the purity of the untouched snow with my boot prints, but I knew by the amount of snow falling fervently from the sky that they would be covered and forgotten soon, as if they had never been there at all.

As I began prepping for dinner, filling a large worn-black pot with water and setting it on the stove top to boil while thawing a package of frozen sweet and sour sauce, I instinctively turned to the kitchen windows and began to close the blinds so as to trap in the heat, as I most often did this time of night when the sun was beginning it's descent behind the mountains and leaving us without the heat of it's rays. But as the snow fell more furiously now, buckets of small, crowded flakes landing hard and strong on the ground, I made the decision to leave the blinds open a bit longer. I wanted to see the snow fall while I cooked, even feel the crispness of the brisk air that crept through the cool glass windows and into our home. It gave me a feeling of tremendous gratitude to the spirit of the earth, this snow. I thought about just yesterday when we were sitting in our kayaks, paddling up the river in the sunshine to celebrate the first day of march, and how even that was already our second kayaking trip of this year. I thought about how our trees had begun budding, how our neighbors had already planted their peas in the soft dirt of their gardens. I tried to think about the last time we had seen a snow fall in our valley, but I honestly couldn't remember the last time. And in that moment while I reminisced, while the fresh snow covered the ground and continued it's course from the clouds above, with no sign of faltering, it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

I was acutely aware of this feeling and with it, I was acutely aware of the fact that I quite possibly had never felt it before in my life. I have always been a sunshine girl. I have always preferred the summer months to that of the cold, dreary winters. In fact, I have never much cared for snow at all.

But this year and it's unusually warm temperatures have left me with a soft nagging in my gut. It has been as if someone attached a thin string to my insides, and occasionally, like when the trees budded or the peas were planted or we kayaked, basking in the sun on the river surrounded by snow-less brown fields, they would tug on that string. Just a tiny tug, nothing painful and perhaps even nothing I would typically recognize at all, had I not been so markedly in tune with my gut feelings this year. That string would tug and it would all but ruin the happiness that welled up inside of me as a direct result of the sunshine and the lack of snow. It would take away my jubilation of feeling spring in january. Because while I wanted so badly to enjoy it, while I recognized the dream of the current situation for a sunshine girl like myself, that string tugging was the intuition of a bad omen that lingered in the air like the smell of smoke rising above a burning pile of wood.

Something wasn't right.

And this not solely because of the traditions it altered. Traditions such as snow falling on the windshield in succession to the melody of the christmas songs that sung of pine cones and holly berries from the speakers of the car. Bundling the children until they look like puffy marshmallows, sending them into the yard to build a snowman and watching that snowman stand tall with his carrot nose and his prune buttons lining his midsection, standing proud for months in the front yard, a symbol of the season, one that would only melt when spring time arrived. Soaring down tall hills on plastic sleds. Packing together soft powdered snow into compact balls and throwing them at one another from behind the wall of your snow fort.

No, it wasn't just the tradition of it that tugged on that string tied tightly in my gut. It was the science of it. It was the worry of precipitation levels so low, that there would even be a possibility that one day in the future, with continued warm winters, we could run out of water. The population in our state is increasing at these massive rates, the winters are becoming progressively warmer, and people are exceptionally selfish with their water. Not selfish in the way a toddler is when they refuse to share their toys with the other kids, but rather unconsciously selfish. Largely because they are unaware.

In the heat of the summer, mid july, when the air is thick with steamy heat and the grass is so dry and brittle that it breaks when you touch it, and there is a ban on fireworks because the fire hazard is too high, my hope is that in this heat the unaware will become more aware. My hope is that through these unusually warm winters, we can come together and focus on water conservation. That we can become educated.

My hope is that we can share.

1 comment:

  1. Such lovely, perfect writing. I worry about the same things along with wildfires. I hope the west - and the world - will be OK.