Tuesday morning at precisely 8 o’clock it started snowing, and didn’t stop until it dumped a good seven inches on us. No surprise to any long-term residents around here, who are mostly grateful that it wasn’t a blizzard. Two big clues that winter is not returning in force: the light is all wrong and the snow doesn’t stick to the road for very long. Any snow that falls this time of year is the inverse of Indian summer, but there isn’t a handy little phrase for it. That is to say, a show of winter when spring is on the way is similar to the show of summer after autumn’s first frosts have hit. There ought to be a word for it, but as far as I know, there isn’t. We have the “January thaw” and “mud season,” but nothing for winter’s last stand–if it indeed is winter’s last stand. It will surely snow in April, but there will be less accumulation and it will disappear sooner. This might (might) be the last significant snowfall of this winter. Whatever you call it.
Now, the digging and dividing of perennials, the general autumn cleanup and the planting of spring bulbs are all an act of faith. One carries on before the altar of delayed gratification, until the ground freezes and you can’t do any more other than refill the bird feeder and gaze through the window, waiting for the snow. . . . Meanwhile, it helps to think of yourself as a pear tree or a tulip. You will blossom spectacularly in the spring, but only after the required period of chilling.
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