There is a bleakness that comes with the approach of winter. Its more than leafless
trees, ashen skies and winds that bite your cheeks. Gradually each year we come to
realise that indeed the days of warm evenings, the lush smell of flowers and flashing
rain showers are well behind us and the bitter bone chilling brutality of winter
is only weeks away. We go through this process every year, forgetting last fall and
the fall before it and depressingly discover for yet another year gloves, heavy coats
and fleeting moments between house door and car door will be the norm for six months.
Its like this tree, is it dead or dying, or is it one of those odd ever green trees
that turn gold during its non-growing months. Hard to tell but ominous.
Awareness that things looming before us are as bad as they might seem, is not
something we want to think about. War, the ultimate horror of human existence is
talked of and considered both inevitable, repugnant and yet hope, that sliver of
innocence bets that the signs we see are only false profits and all things will turn
out okay, well maybe.
Few of us realise what those news stories on the television really mean, numbers,
rumors and pictures of rubble can not convey the total darkness of obliteration.
War is organised slaughter and awareness of that is both terrifying and disconcerting.
On two lawns about a block from our house some people have crossed that barrier of
awareness, they have accepted the inevitability of the coming winter and decided
to take advantage of what little positive results it might have. They have erected
snow fence. Seems like an odd thing to do but in a place where the total rainfall
this past year has been far below what climatologist describe as desert (seventeen
inches of rainfall a year) these structures make perfect sense. These home owners
realising that watering a lawn in a drought is a hopeless waste of water, have decided
to capture the snow from the prevailing Northwest wind. Their snow fence will retain
drifts of frozen granular water which will in the spring thaw and, it is to be hoped,
sink into the parched lawn to nourish it to life in the coming summer.
So as our awareness grows the prudent will, though with sadness in the hearts, plan
for the worst and as always hope for the best.
Timothy W. Shire