The snowdrops and crocuses have been out this past week, poking their little white and yellow heads out into the brownish desolation of late February as if to assure us that spring is indeed on its way. On my daily walks, I gathered fallen twigs with their little red leaf-buds showing, swelling with the tiny green leaves inside ready to uncurl. And then suddenly, last night, winter came back down on us with a vengeance, dumping seven inches of snow on us before daybreak.
The ironic part is, this is the sort of perfect snowfall that we haven't had all winter long. It's mostly been a dull sort of winter, with plenty of raw cold and biting wind, but very little snow to brighten up the bleak grey landscape. The few significant snowfalls we've had were of the nasty, wet variety that clings grimly to the shovel and leaves behind a slick film on the sidewalk that congeals almost immediately into ice, making you wonder whether you haven't made matters worse by attempting to shovel it at all. And now, just as spring seemed to be just around the corner, we get more than half a foot of clean, fluffy white snow, completely covering up the dead grass and leaves and turning the whole neighborhood into a winter wonderland. We never seem to get this sort of beautiful snow at Christmas time, or in the grimness of late January and early February when it seems like there's nothing good to be said for winter. A month ago, I'd much have preferred a blanket of beautiful white snow to the mucky brown of bare ground with nothing growing out of it, but now, when things were just starting to bloom, it all feels somehow wrong.
Of course, this is most likely just winter's last hurrah--although the weather here in New Jersey is unpredictable enough that you can't be truly sure of anything. Back in kindergarten, I learned the old saw about March coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb, and I expect this March will do just that. By this weekend, according to the weather report, the temperatures will climb back up into the 40s and 50s; a more seasonable rain will come in and wash away the snow. The remaining crocuses will come up, followed by daffodils, violets, forsythias. The little buds on the trees will uncurl their leaves, and by the time April arrives, we'll have springtime for real, instead of just the teasing glimpse of it we got last week before winter reasserted itself. So perhaps it's just as well to have this one (probably) last snowfall to give us a chance to appreciate winter at its best--winter as it should be--before it melts away into nothing for another year.