Notes From My Knapsack 1-21-15
Cold, hard, silent seasons
Once the holidays are behind us, and even the college football national championship is a memory, not an anticipation, we're simply in winter.
Cold, hard, silent winter. Sometimes with snow, often with ice, always with a chill that reaches deep within, to rattle bones and shiver the skin.
This is why John Sutphin Jones left behind the beauty of Bryn Du and founded Naples, Florida (that long pier out to deep water? it ran a coal car rail line to bring baggage from steamers in to shore, thanks to the Sunday Creek Mining Company), that is why so many "snowbirds" leave us in central Ohio and flee to warmer climes whether on the Gulf, the Rio Grande, or any points south they can find.
Winter in central Ohio can be very, very hard. Hard on houses, hard on cars, hard on bodies, young, old, aging or infant. We've had a long run of fairly mellow seasons, with just the high drama of ice storms and derechos for seasoning. Last winter there was a coating of snow for most of the darkest weeks of winter; this winter our snow hasn't been as substantial, but the temps have more than made up for the lack of frozen precipitation.
Is there more or less winter in our future? Even the assumption of global climate change due to human impacts doesn't clarify what central Ohio will see over the next few decades: the models for what's often called warming can mean cooling and snowpack here even as glaciers melt elsewhere.
My aging joints and almanac interpretations point towards a more wintry future for Granville, with snow and cold to mark the season. Good news for skiers, not-so-good for pretty much everyone else.
Tree trimming means that limbs are clipped back beyond where they can freeze and fall onto power lines; snow blades and salt spreaders on village trucks keep the side streets clear, or at least maneuverable. Along Broadway, the restaurants are looking to specials that fight off the chill, even as our frozen custard shop is shuttered and dark until more friendly temperatures prevail
Comet Lovejoy has been a feature of night skies for those who know where to look, a borderline naked-eye cometary body recently discovered and briefly in view across the flanks of Taurus, now fading as it moves past the Sun. Orion gazes impassively at the shimmering fuzzy light to his right, while Sirius leaps to pursue from below and to the left as you look into the southern skies on these icy but crystalline nights.
Winter in Ohio has some attractions, the lines of low-light shadow across snowy coatings making a frigid geometry out of overpasses and tree limbs. Returning to warm living rooms and burrowing under thick blankets can bring a joyful glow to even the most wearied heart.
And bit by bit, morning by morning, the light at dawn comes sooner and sooner, days growing longer and night, and cold, feeling constraints on either end. Soon enough, we'll groan at dawn's early light, and mutter about the heat. In those days, may we remember these!
Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in central Ohio; tell him about your joys of wintertime at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.