The Mill Creek was high on Tuesday. The color of cold coffee with three squirts of cream, the creek was in a rush to get to the Grand River and Lake Erie after all that rain.
This morning the creek is as still as the three inches of fluffy snow on the otherwise naked branches that overhang it. Crystalline froth on a latte river.
The snow is crunchy and the pre-sunrise sky is pink. The few dark clouds that linger from the snowstorm embrace the sunrise and wear its delicate hues like cotton lace.
No matter how you feel about winter, the facts are the facts. The lake is mostly clear of ice and thus the lake effect snow fell last night. The roads are sloppy, but frankly, there is no good reason to stay home or indoors, for that matter. It is winter and usually snows with the same regularity as tax bills, head colds and paychecks, so why fret about it? The snowmobile owners will be happy; they have already cut their paths through the Western Reserve Greenway Trail, and when the sun sets on Sunday, the snowscape will be pocked with their circles and lines.
At the end of the day, it is all part of life, and life is good.
Nevertheless, I observe that the chill is more numbing to digits and snouts the older you get, but also that a winter morning is a masterpiece of subtle genius. You are more sympathetic to the plight of cardinals, white-tail deer and snow-plow operators and less so to the junior-high students whose parents insist upon keeping them warm at the bus stop in a row of minivans making their contribution to climate change.
“Why when I was kid, we walked a mile in three feet of snow and …” grumbles the Baby Boomer. Or, “Another snow day? You got to be kidding. The roads are not that bad!”
Let’s be honest here. If snow days were an option for our jobs, that 6 inches of snow would be an impassable blizzard, environmental catastrophe and worst case of the stomach flu all rolled into one.
The problem is the bed. It beckons on mornings like this. Flannel piled upon flannel, topped with a handmade quilt. As close to a womb as you’ll come this side of birth.
The initial thump and subsequent rumble of the old furnace in the basement replaces the alarm clock; a comforting sound to wake up to, more so than fishing for the dog’s chain under the snow while standing in slippers too short for the snowfall. But you learn from 62 winters that snow melts more quickly than most of life’s nuisances. It melts and makes water, and water is a good thing, for it is made hot and drips through a mound of coarse bean dust in a paper filter, and the brew delivers caffeine and some 200 other complex chemicals to the bloodstream, once the bitter soup is tamed with cream. And, like the snow, flannel and the pink sky, the brew is a good thing.
And when I come home tonight the half-consumed cup will still be on the table, the coffee the color of Mill Creek before all this happened.