“So how do you like the snow?” is usually the first question our hardy New England neighbors ask when they find out we’re from Texas and inexperienced in the art of winter survival.
“We love it!” is the stock reply. “Texas is just so hot, that the cold and snow are a great change.”
When they express skepticism, we follow up with “Well, we don’t have to commute, so that probably makes a difference,” or some other apologetic phrase. “If we had to drive in it all the time, we’d probably have a different opinion.”
Which is utter BS. I DO love the snow (well, OK, I don’t love driving in it). I love the endless variation of blues when the sun shines through the drifts. I love how the flakes stick to my dog’s fur. I love how it erases imperfections.
But mostly, I love the quiet. Snow is silence. It’s more than just the decreased traffic (or weirdly, decreased phone calls): snow literally and figuratively filters out extraneous noise. You don’t have any choice but to experience it. Whether you are out adventuring in your snow sports or enjoying tea by the fire, a snowstorm (we have had several now) forces you to be quiet. Snow turns the volume down on life.
Because I’m the way I am, I felt the need to look up the science behind the silence. I won’t bore you with my research, but the noise-dampening effect of snow is real. (https://nsidc.org/cryosphere/snow/science/characteristics.html)
In the almost 2-1/2 years we have owned the inn (and for me, living outside of Texas for the first time), it sometimes seems like there is an infinitely long train that is barreling past, dropping off various attention sucking items and activities. The constant background noise and movement is combined with the joy of a never-ending supply of “shit that needs to get done” dropped in our laps each day. Get a new septic system. Fix the roof. Find and fix the OTHER septic system you didn’t know you had. Evict the bat from the dining room. How in the actual hell did we run out of heating oil?!?! Or our favorite game: “Where is that water coming from?”
All of these attention sucks are in addition to trying to build our business, make our guests happy, be involved in the community, and – oh – spend a little time enjoying our beautiful house, property, and new home. Which is why we made the decision to come here in the first place. Every day is go go go GO – death in the family? Chronic illness? There is no time for personal drama. So it tends to get dealt with quickly and quietly and then it’s back to the noise. Don’t get me wrong, we have a wonderful life. It is a privilege to meet so many new folks and welcome them into our home. It is a thrill when we can provide a guest with a unique experience that delights them. And it’s exciting to try out new and interesting recipes on unsuspecting people 🙂 But it is also quite demanding.
When the snow storm comes, everything stops. In Texas, a microscopically thin glaze of ice or a quarter inch of snow is a recipe for 10,000 traffic accidents. We would always say “Texans don’t know how to drive in winter weather – but most of them think that they do.” Here in Vermont, when the roads are bad – people stay HOME! There are still the deluded few who race down the icy roads (and end up in ditches), but there is no “I-can’t-miss-work-itis” here. Unless you literally can’t miss work because you are moving snow around and/or keeping people safe. Actually, the Vermonters I know don’t tend to make their job the focus of their lives. It’s amazingly odd and liberating at the same time – more on that in another post. I’m pretty sure anyone who doesn’t work for emergency or essential services just takes a snow day.
As I write this, the first two of the 18-24 inches of snow we are expecting has fallen. The dogs are sleeping. I am watching the snow, drinking some tea, and being grateful for the silence. I do love the snow.