Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
by Anne Archer
Years ago winter in Laramie knocked at our doors in late November and didn't leave until Mayday. Each frigid season scattered gigantic ornamental snowflakes onto bare bushes, evergreens and brown lawns. Winter storms produced misshaped mounds of steely blue softness that grew like Jack's beanstalk outside my bedroom window. Rooftops creaked underneath snow blankets of varying weight; some layers were thin and scratchy, the result of sleet storms, while others thick and fluffy, the culmination of blizzards that closed schools. Cars became large white bumps in driveways, mailboxes disappeared and neighborhood kids made as much money for an hour of shoveling as their parent's made for a full day's work.
I never complained about my battery dead truck that moaned each dark morning before work. I relished in the challenge of walking on icy sidewalks that forced me to maneuver about as well as an unhinged ironing board. And the frozen mucous in my nose was a nice change from the runny stuff that plagued me every spring and fall.
Recently though, Laramie's infamous winters have been replaced by a mixture of warm falls and cold springs; white Christmas's, ice skating on Valentine's Day and snowstorms on Easter are things of the past. For several seasons my down comforter that used to pin me to my mattress has been packaged up in the same plastic zipper bag it came in. My Sorels sit in the basement covered in dust. My 18 inch Poly snow shovel, which I once considered a workout gadget, has been retired long before its expiration date.
The change from hard, cold winters to nothing more than a few puny snow storms and a hard frost is undeniable yet I refuse to concede. Each winter I wait for the snow that used to stop my town dead in its tracks, I long to hear snowplow blades scraping against ice covered streets, I dream of having to use four-wheel drive on my way to work. Still the snow doesn't fall.
Some residents are happy with the warming change, recalling previous winters as harsh and miserable while others are too young or too new to the region to have formed memories of building snow forts with sand buckets, dodging hard-packed snowballs thrown by older siblings, pulling best friends on plastic saucer sleds and skating on the secret pond behind the town's storage garage.
Sadly, I must admit that my snow dancing and storytelling of winters past have not brought back the magical whiteness that I once thought defined my community. But, like any true optimist would say, "There's always next year."
Anne Archer was born in Laramie and went to the University of Wyoming where she studied accounting. After six years of professional employment in Wyoming she moved to Oregon only to return to Laramie to study wildlife biology. She was saddened when two winters passed and she'd worn her Sorels only once. Now Anne lives and studies French in Vancouver, BC where it only rains.
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