January 31, 2010
Looks like home: Dark trees silhouetted against fresh snow. The crunch of treaded boots breaking the crust. Biting cold. Panicked birds at the feeder.
I'm fairly sure other New Englanders who migrated south to avoid just this felt a pang on Saturday morning --- part dread, part familiarity. Maybe we also felt a tad superior because we know how to handle it.
I arrived in North Carolina with two dozen outergarments (from a chamois-lined wool greatcoat to down-filled ski jackets) collected during 20 years in Vermont and another 20 even farther north. I have boots for many conditions, fashion not among them. Mittens and gloves? Enough to open a store. In fact, if the storm hadn't cancelled the flight to see my grandchildren I wouldn't have minded at all.
Ice or not, by Sunday morning I had to get out. The bird seed bin was empty. Off to Wal-Mart I went in my Subaru.
That's the other thing: Where I lived, owning a four-wheel drive vehicle with snow tires and anti-lock brakes is like owning a toothbrush. Keeping a bag of salt/sand and several scrapers in the trunk is as routine as paying taxes. The only differential was the roads -- even main ones like Morganton Road and 15-501. They had been cleared but strips of untreated packed snow and ice gleamed in the early morning sun. Cars crept, a good thing.
I have driven in every conceivable winter condition but Sunday morning was iffy for the first few minutes, until I got my sea legs. Then I felt the tires grab the frozen mounds and roll confidently over patches of glare ice. This was almost like navigating that awful arcade racing-car game my grandsons play at the movie theater. This was fun.
This felt like home.
I'm so obnoxious when I call friends in Vermont. Oh, it's 60 and sunny today, everybody's out on the golf course. Yes, pansies bloom in January and the birds never fly south -- because they're here.
Thank goodness for that. Because if the birds hadn't been here, and hungry, I might have missed the ride. I might not have been blinded by sun reflected off the snow or see the bumps pine cones make in an otherwise smooth surface.
Sure the storm was a nuisance, even a danger. But a little contrast now and then makes us appreciate the pansies.