The mounds of snow are slowly shrinking, their top layers melting away under the gentle warmth of the afternoon sun. The sidewalks are dark with water, the gutters swollen with it. Everything freezes again overnight, leaving thin, treacherous layers of black ice over sidewalks and curbs and parking lots in the morning.
Along the roads, the snow is gritty, brown from the traffic rolling by and throwing up dirt and exhaust onto the pure white drifts. The city makes the snow ugly, and the dirt keeps it from melting. In the parks, the drifts are still mostly white and clean, though crisscrossed with deep footprints. Fat squirrels scurry lightly over the top of the snow. In the Public Garden, the lake is thick white ice, with a few telltale brown patches where it grows thin. Someone has dug the ducklings out, still cheerily sporting their red Christmas ribbons.
Before moving to Boston, I had never engaged with snow as a thing, a weight, a physical presence. Snow in West Texas is an ephemeral novelty; in Oxford, it was a temporary delight. In New England, the delight is still temporary, but the reality has staying power. After a storm like Nemo, the aftermath lingers for days and weeks. Slush gathers on street corners, churned up by muddy boots; in sheltered corners, patches of dirt-speckled snow sometimes lie until spring.
Every morning, I check the weather forecast and the public transportation website. I pull on tights and knee socks, a puffy down jacket, thick-soled boots. I wrap a scarf around my neck, pull on gloves and a hat, and head out to do battle with the elements. Sometimes I walk for ten yards along a sidewalk before hitting solid snow. More often I move my feet slowly, carefully, over the patches of ice until I find dry ground again.
This is what winter in Boston requires: preparation, the right gear, sharp eyes and careful navigation. For me, it also requires extra light, color therapy, plenty of tea and soup, bouquets of fresh flowers on the dining room table. And a good dose of grit-your-teeth perseverance.
I’m trying. I really am. But I’m counting the days till spring.