As the next blizzard blows toward Boston just in time for Valentine's Day — a holiday in which affection is not only tolerated, but ardently promoted — I feel almost safe in professing my abiding love for snow. Not just snow, but all 75 plus inches that have fallen on our city this month in the form of back-to-back blizzards, piling up in vision-impairing white mounds that turn our sidewalks into tunnels and our streets to a cold soup of slush, sand and salt.
While my own deeply felt love for a blizzard remains unconditional, I certainly sympathize with those who have suffered from winter's vigorous embrace. With it has come missed work, a crippled transit system as well as stress, fatigue, and worries the size of South End snow drifts.
But this is Valentine's Day and my one chance to look past the shortcomings of my cold white crush. This is my day to swoon over snow.
Juno. Mwah! Marcos. Mwah! Valentine's Day storm. Mwah! Mwah! Mwah!
We hear that a blizzard is on the way, and the city pauses. We take a moment to stop what feels like an endless state of activity and pay attention to the world outside of our windows.
Here's the thing about Boston. We are a lively city, an artistic city, and, yes, we are the smartest large city in the nation according to Forbes with 44.8 percent of our population holding college degrees, and kids who regularly out-standarize-test their peers around the country. And for some of the same reasons that we're so smart, we are also a stressed out city with a culture of competitive busy-ness that makes it challenging to grab a coffee with a friend on a Saturday morning or cobble together a last minute plan on a Friday night, because we all have so much to do. Always. Every day.
Until the snow comes.
Or just the news of it. We hear that a blizzard is on the way, and the city pauses. We take a moment to stop what feels like an endless state of activity and pay attention to the world outside of our windows. It becomes something of a fixation for us, whether it's fear or expectancy or, in my case, glee. When it snows, Boston focuses on one thing, and that is the weather.
As much as I love the buzz of anticipation and getting ready beforehand, I really love the quiet during the storm itself and the blur of white that gives me permission to pick up a book, watch a movie, or make a fire — before I have to start doing again. I love that the mail doesn't come and I can't go shopping and that there will be a spike in births next October, because making love with the curtains open on a stormy night is one of the greatest pleasures of winter in Boston.
Finally, I love how after the storm is over, the city falls under a shivery white spell. We reach a still point in which all is quiet. It may not last long, but even a moment feels like a much-needed meditation for our overworked minds.
And what about our kids? For my two teenagers, saddled with the stresses of those aforementioned standardized tests and the pressures to achieve, snow days are a gift. Beyond the requisite sledding with friends and shoveling money from neighbors, they get a day — or five, or 10 — off from homework, sports, and the constant doing that we have taught them to value above being.
I love how after the storm is over, the city falls under a shivery white spell. We reach a still point in which all is quiet.
There are many things I don't talk about, even with closest friends. My salary. My sex life (except when it comes to snow storms). And in Boston, this deep passion I feel for blizzards and their power to, if only for a few breaths, unite, transfix and transform us.
So, while you are complaining about shoveling, and friends in California are texting their condolences, I am spending this Valentine's day in a state of love and snow.
I plan on eating chocolate for breakfast as I watch what is sure to look like a snow globe scene out my window. Later while my husband and son gallantly rescue neighbors with our snow blower, my daughter and I have a plan to make a giant pink heart with food coloring in the snow bank in front of our house. Since getting across town to keep our dinner reservation looks unlikely, we'll probably make a stew and eat it in front of the fire. And maybe later I will open my curtains and invite my husband to watch the storm with me. After all, it is Valentine's Day.