My sister lives in Vermont and says she knows a guy who can summon snow. Call him up, I tell her, we need a storm.
Let it snow.
Thick, wet, boot-clinging flakes. Street-clogging, tire-spinning, school-canceling heavy drifts. It's the winter solstice, it's supposed to happen, so let it snow, okay?
Enough with all those TV weather readers with their heat-colored radars and shiny teeth and Sunbelt-blond hair moaning about winter, telling us to root for Alberta Clippers to clip to the north, for the Nor'easter to move nor'east. Put a cork in it.
Enough with barren cement and dark oaks silhouetted against gray skies that promise nothing. We've had three years of mid-Atlantic winters, of so-called snow days when the confectionary dusting evaporates by 10 a.m. Thaws when there's nothing to thaw. Flower stalks popping in February, mocking daggers of green. Enough already.
What better for a child than the morning after, the pit-of-the-stomach anticipation as you pull up the shade to see if those low pregnant gray clouds delivered. You see nothing; it won't be the last time you curse the sky. But pull that shade and get a shot of that sharp snow light and the world as in a white vacuum and . . .
Let it snow.
When we were kids, I'd stand atop the drifts on West 86th Street, a muffled gray canyon of Manhattan snow, and listen for the rumble. Watch as the Sanitation truck with the snowplow attached rolled into sight, the driver's face blurry behind the wet windows. The massive blade bounced off asphalt frost heaves, sparks danced like fireflies, and the plow fishtailed around the corner.
As it grew silent again I'd feel the urgency of every grade-schooler who ever dug a hideout between two snow-covered Buicks and hoped it would never melt. Before evening, the Board of Education's snow checkers, the green-visor men of snow, would survey the streets and decide the question: Should schools remain shuttered another day?
What if the inspectors came to your street and found it clear? So you kicked, shoveled, threw the congealed ice and snow back into the street. And all the time you thought, let the snow keep falling.
I heard two ladies complaining in the elevator the other day about winter's advent. Oh, snow's a pain to drive through, she says. Pray for a warm winter, says the other. Pray against snow?
I want to tap them on the shoulder and ask . . . Have you ever let yourself fall backward into snow's heavy softness? Have you ever slipped through a frozen forest onto a lake capped with snow, sucking in your breath at the azure sharpness of it?
You glide across the lake, skimming skimming, keeping the skis parallel, sweat prickling your skin. And legs grow sore and the garments get wet and you climb back up the hill to the cabin. Pull off the wet wool. Your legs, her legs, dimpled and pink and wet.
Didn't you ever put snow on your tongue and just let it melt?
I worry: What if this is it, if La Nina mates with global warming and does in snow for another few winters?
My sons, Aidan and Nicky, they won't always moon for snow, they won't always bounce to the end of their beds and flip up the shade and sigh.
Let it snow.
A few years back, in Brooklyn, the snow falls, melts and refreezes to form a fine glinting crust. I hustle home, grab a Flexible Flyer, confide a secret to Nicky: When it's like this, you glide forever.
I walk into the dark of Prospect Park, pulling Nicky behind me on the sled. We climb a hill, feet slipping under us. I put Nicky on my back--my stomach will feel as sore tomorrow as a boxer gone 12 rounds--and push off . . . flying and bouncing across a frozen moonscape, metal runners clattering into the half-light of a city night. And Nicky whispers a hope into my ear: Maybe we'll never stop . . .
We live now along a fine stretch of hill in Takoma Park. Our neighbors tell us that when the snow falls heavy, they close the street off. And the sleds and saucers come out and everyone flies and bounces over speed bumps from morning to night. Nicky, Aidan, Evelyn and I, we want to see that.
Let it snow.
CAPTION: After a snowfall, grade-schoolers can dig a hideout between snow-covered parked cars and hope it never melts.
CAPTION: Imagine bouncing across a frozen landscape, as Brittany Arthur did Wednesday in Hazleton, Pa., above, in a whoosh of white. While kids frolic amid the drifts, Joe Meaney in Hamburg, N.Y., left, shoulders the mundane task of keeping sidewalks cleared.