Monday, March 9, 2015

Bring on the Cruellest Month

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.  
T.S. Eliot 

This passage by Eliot is often quoted when people talk about their longing for spring.  Eliot's metaphor for the pain of emotional intimacy is poignant, but it has nothing much to do with the actual rigors of winter, and even he would look out my front windows today and say "enough, already."  

This has been our most difficult winter on this property.  Due to the heavy snows coupled with slight thaws and refreezing, we have been literally snowed in for several days at a time.  In the past we 
"Dull Roots"  12x12 inches on cradled board.  2014.
could always get out the drive somehow with our all-wheel-drive CRV.  This winter, we couldn't.  The roads were clear, and we could hear people driving along them merrily in the distance.  But between those roads and our house lay 500 feet of narrow, twisty, hilly gravel drive that was impassable.  Knowing winter was coming (unlike some) we had laid in a lot of supplies, but we lived in fear of one of the inexplicable long power failures that has happened too often here.  Because of the outrageous cold we had to order a third refill of our propane tank, and then we feared he wouldn't be able to get up the drive.  He managed, and seemed unbothered.  Men who drive propane trucks are undoubtedly experts at not worrying about things.  

The snow seems to be slowly melting now, and subzero temperatures and ice dams on the roof might be a thing of the past.  Having lived for so many years, I know that a substantial snow accumulation in March or even April could still be in the cards.  But sooner or later, this winter will end.  All the winters in history have ended, eventually.  

There are some hopeful signs.  The antique sewing machine carcasses in the front garden are visible above the snow once again, and the birds are singing, which - although their tunes are all about sex and aggression - sounds optimistic and cheerful to human ears.  I've been very productive art-wise, and I'm proud of myself for getting through the bulk of the winter, more or less in one piece.  

I will consider winter to be over when I can see the gravel on the drive again, and when even one of my bulbs sends up a stalk.  When those two things happen, I will believe in the imminence of spring.