145. Snow

There was once a man named Dante Alighieri. You may have heard of him. He wrote Inferno, a cheerful, lighthearted little poem about hell.

According to Dante, hell is packed full of horrors: demons, monsters, rivers of blood, blazing tombs and other awful things. His version of hell is divided into concentric circles, and each is more gruesome than the one before.

What is in the innermost circle, you ask? What dreadful torment afflicts Satan himself?

The answer, of course, is snow.

Well, the answer is technically ice, but snow is close enough. (Snow consists of ice crystals, right?) Dante apparently disliked cold weather as much as I do.

Snow is falling outside. Well, falling isn’t the right word. The snow outside is traveling more or less horizontally, driven along by icy blasts of wind. It’s the first blizzard of winter, and it makes me wonder why I decided to come back to Indiana. I could have gone anywhere on Earth. I could have settled in the Sahara. Why did I choose the American Midwest?

As I grew up in Ecuador, snow was something remote: splashes of white on distant mountain peaks. At this moment, snow is a cold, wet carpet just outside my front door. I prefer my snow on faraway mountaintops. Right now, it’s too close for comfort.

I must admit snow can be quite pretty. On a night with no wind, a gentle snowfall is one of the most lovely things I’ve ever seen. New snow sparkles in the sunshine. Individual snowflakes, examined carefully, are microscopic works of art.

Tragically, the beauty of snow often comes at the cost of bitter cold, biting winds, icy roads and dreary skies. Even snow loses its charm. It becomes dull and crusty as days go by, or else turns to muddy slush.

At times like these, when wind rattles the windows and snowflakes turn the world white, I love lounging in an armchair, listening to Christmas music and drinking tea. Sooner or later, however, I must don my duster, set my face like flint and venture forth into the maelstrom of howling wind and stinging ice. It is a harrowing thought.

I’ve never before considered hibernation, but I like the thought of sleeping through the winter and awaking in the spring. Alas, my employer would probably disapprove. C’est la vie.

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