On Saturday morning, the landscape was made to confuse Bing Crosby.
“I’m … dreaming of a white … springtime?”
Some things just come with Colorado living. Like elevation signs at the city limits. Or a faith in the Denver Broncos that defies all evidence. Or – perhaps most of all – the roll-the-dice seasons that give you snow in April, even if it’s only for a day or two.
I got an early initiation into the wonders of Colorado weather, with a blizzard that closed my grade school and knocked out the power … in May. And of course, by the next day the streets and sidewalks were as dry as a bone. It wasn’t exactly a planned part of the curriculum, but it drove its own lesson home.
And yet, no matter how many times it happens, I can still get caught off guard by it. It’s like a weird version of Rip Van Winkle: go to sleep with green grass and weekend plans to weed the garden plot, only to wake up to the latest episode of Second Christmas. (“You’d better watch out …”)
It’s weird. It’s wonderful.
And more often than not, it’s exactly what we need.
OK, put down the torches, pitchforks and angry snow shovels. I know how long a winter we just had. Even for the Front Range, keeping snow on the ground from December until March is a tad unusual. And I know some of you became more than a little tired of it, even while others found a childlike wonder and glee and still others gave the mandatory chant of “Well, we can sure use the moisture.”
But I’m not talking about the snow itself.
I’m talking about the shakeup.
It’s easy to get into ruts and routines. Even when the pandemic hit, our world shattered in an eye blink … and then reorganized itself around a new set of precautions, habits and expectations. After all, it’s exhausting to constantly reinvent everything; slipping into the familiar frees our mind to focus on other topics.
But if we stay too familiar – if we introduce nothing new – we risk stagnating.
The mystery writer Lawrence Block once gave the example of a man stranded on a raft in the freezing North Atlantic. Every day, Block said, he burns a piece of his raft to stay warm. And sooner or later, if he doesn’t find any new material, he’s going to be in trouble.
It doesn’t have to be huge. A book you’ve never read before. A place you’ve always thought about visiting. An experiment of any kind, even if it fails – maybe even especially if it fails, since that can allow you to learn more for the next time around. (“Rapid unscheduled disassembly,” anyone?)
It can be anything that opens your horizons just a little more and makes you consider something new. Because then a bit of you becomes new as well. And like snow in springtime, that piece can shine with its own unexpected beauty.
By the time this appears in print, the coats may be back in the closet and the gardening tools back in play. That’s OK. If the unexpected stays too long, it becomes a new routine. Magic, to stay magical, can’t linger.
But the lesson can. I hope we remember it and put it to use.
And if we can, it’s snow wonder.