I haven’t lived in Florida for more than a decade, but when it comes to truly wintry weather, it’s like I never left: heavy, blustery snow both overawes me and freaks me out. (Back in Missouri, when I had to drive in it, snow downright terrified me.) The thing is, I know I’m overreacting—it’s not that big a deal—so when the media starts feeding my exaggerated fears back at me—Snowpocalypse! Snowmaggedon! eeeeee!—part of me is gratified, and another part slightly annoyed. How am I supposed to be rational when they’re doing everything possible to send me into a paranoid fit?
Here in New York, the snow started falling early Wednesday morning. I probably could have gone in to the office if I had to—that’s one point to living in Manhattan, where the public transportation runs safely underground—but I was fortunate enough to be able to work from home, so that’s what I did. Rather than venture into all that cold, wet iciness, I staying inside where it was warm and dry, and where I didn’t risk breaking my neck with each step. I kept the curtains open, though, to watch the snow fall—sometimes lightly, sometimes in a thick blur, but never stopping. It was still falling when I went to sleep that night.
By Thursday morning, it had finally stopped, and when I left for work, there was surprisingly little evidence of the previous day’s Snowpocalypse. The roads were clear. The sidewalks were clear. True, the gutters were packed with slush, but it wasn’t, you know, apocalyptic. The city continued as usual. It was an ordinary winter day.
After work, rather than go straight home, I took a walk through Central Park on a whim, and there was Snowmageddon—except that the silly name was not only ridiculous but wildly inappropriate. In the park, the snow wasn’t horrific but beautiful: a hushed, gleaming wonderland. Snow covered the tree branches like icing on a cake and blanketed the ground so deeply that footsteps didn’t disturb its pure white. Children shouted from a nearby hill as they sledded down the slope, and misshapen snowmen stood silently among the trees. The surface of the pond had turned to ice, its glassy surface lightly etched by the countless tiny footprints. Mallard ducks clustered at the base of a small waterfall where the ice had broken away, and when I trudged closer to get a better look, a raccoon darted out from the rocks and padded delicately across the frozen pond.
In the park, the snow was lovely, but I lingered only twenty minutes or so before heading indoors to warm up. Maybe winter needn’t be nightmarish as the news media would have me believe (especially when the city can clear away the worst of it in a matter of hours), but I still appreciate it best from indoors, gazing out my bedroom window at the untouched snow-covered courtyard with a mug of hot chocolate in my hands, a blanket around my shoulders, and a spoiled, sleepy cat in my lap.