Snow and Ethics
I notice that I have a dim sense of satisfaction as I watch the snow drift down, as though the more it piles up, the more I have accomplished, which makes no sense, but does make me wonder about how tied into the weather we are. This is not to say that I am happy about storms like this, although I admit my adrenaline goes up when I hear what lies ahead — a blizzard! a foot of snow! two feet of snow! white out conditions! stay off the roads! — and I want the blizzard to happen, and yet I do Not. These are my Missouri roots, I think. Four inches of snow used to cripple St. Louis. I don’t know if that is still the case, but my New England born and raised mother was always very scornful of the general St.Louis panic over “just a few snowflakes.” However, as I watch this snow sleet down and hear the wind puff, I am more St Louis than I like to acknowledge. I don’t know what worries me exactly. It’s not that I think the roof will cave in, but I hate when the power goes off, which it seems like it might do. And it is isolating and the wind is noisy. I think of Giants of the Earth, which we had to read in high school over the summer. I think the immigrants in that story were Norwegian? Maybe they were Swedish. Whatever they were, they moved to the middle plains (I think) of this country where there were enormous snow storms that went on for days and days and they had to hold onto clotheslines to make it from their houses to the barn to feed the animals (I think). And they had to go find fuel to keep their fires going. And food was scarce. I think they lived on root vegetables for weeks on end. Their hands chapped and bled from chopping ice, although why exactly were they chopping ice? I don’t really remember, in part because we never discussed it in English class. My assumption is that it was assigned by someone other than my English teacher who did not like it and did not mention it once, even though it was required reading for all of the 11th grade. I thought this was unfair and somehow illegal. Didn’t teachers have to talk about assigned books? I had read The Whole Thing against my own reading inclinations. I had made marginal notes; I had things to say that clearly I have been saving up for thirty years, although now I can barely remember the book, let alone my thoughts about it. In later years, that English teacher ran off with a student. So, he had ethical issues anyways. It is the small things that give people away. I feel guilty if I don’t mention every dot and dash of readings I have assigned — no doubt, this is my true inheritance from that New England mother of mine.