Thursday, 28 March 2013

Seasonal dissonance

I found my first grey hair the other day: short, thick, and surprisingly wiry, sticking up from the middle of my scalp. I'd been anticipating this moment (though not quite as soon as this), assuming I'd say "ugh, I'm getting old" and book an appointment for highlights. In reality, however - upon confirming that the monochrome strand was truly a product of aging follicles and not a mishap in the kitchen - I felt kind of wistful. Rather than getting rueful, I actually teared up a little, much as I did when I initially wiggled my daughter's first loose tooth only a couple days before. Time, indeed, is going by. While it leaves none of us unscathed, any proof of progress, be it good or bad, is actually relieving. At the tail end of a winter such as this one, I'll take what I can get.

I have been trying, these last two months, to capture the essence of this most capricious of winters. I have nearly half a dozen entries in my proper writer's book, all abandoned as the weather changed once again.  There have been grey skies threatening rain over white snow, pristine blue ones with warm sunshine which brought either spring-like thaws or hardened frost depending on the direction of the wind. In three separate months, we have had white skies hanging so long over shrunken grey banks that when the snow finally fell we were glad for the change, even if it meant another foot of the stuff to shovel. It've been foolish to hope it would all melt yet anyways. There have been blizzards and rain-falls, Chinooks and hoarfrost, and leaves falling at random from November clear until March.

A freak storm mistook Edmonton for Halifax before Remembrance Day weekend, blanketing every surface with thick, heavy, flakes. It was something of a wonderland in a climate more attuned to prairie powder, but I don't believe the trees ever got over the shock. They've clung stubbornly to their fall fashions long past the usual season, shedding their tattered garments in drips and drabs according to each branch's whim. And that was how I came across the following scene back in December: a flaming willow dripping red on a pure white lawn. The sun warmed my back like summer and the wind whispered of spring. Four seasons all in a moment. Is it any wonder my sense of time got confused?

My children don't seem to mind the inconsistencies. They've been delighted to crunch through January leaves mounding along the windrows. They've slid off an enormous March snow bank into an equally enormous puddle, squealing with delight. It's only Mommy who's disconcerted by the contrast. Fall leaves and spring puddles shouldn't come with so much snow, my mind keeps insisting. But so they have, therefore they do.

I keep telling myself I should stop seeing snow as evidence of winter. Be it increasingly frequent cycles of el Niño and la Niña or true-blue climate change, winter's end appears to be becoming an increasingly fuzzy concept. If there are brown-coated bunnies browsing in the drifts, blooms on the violets atop my piano, and the gloaming tells me that bedtime, rather than supper preparation, is in order, I should declare the beginning of spring. Forget waiting on still-hidden greenery. I'll begin by buying tulips.

Even so, long-held perceptions can take some time to change. In the interim, I'll take my tokens of time beyond the seasons. Be they grey hairs, loose teeth, growth spurts, or wrinkles, it's a comfort to know our lives haven't been frozen by the snow.

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