May Snow

March 19, 2009
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On the first Monday of May it snowed, and on Tuesday it snowed a foot. I was happy and nervous those fleeting days, days spent inside in heat and concrete waiting for the final thaw. Snow meant I didn’t have to go outside, didn’t have to go to work, meant I could let stress go unheeded if only for a little longer. Because when it snowed on days it wasn’t supposed to everything moved slower, and spring cleaning was interrupted.



When that happened, life was less frightening: wait, said the Generals, wait for the snow to melt so we can see, wait said the soldiers, don’t go out until the ground is warm and the paths easily followed. Our neighbors must have said the same things, for in those days there were no stray shots and no accidental misfires; poking my head outside I could hear nothing but winter’s fading breath on the valley.



The wind on the ash trees and the oaks and the ginkgos blew snow in a haze around our bunker, reducing visibility and causing nature to still. The early songbirds of spring retreated somewhere we could not figure, and the hopeful green pervasive a summery week ago was hidden beneath a white shroud. Here was winter’s last-ditch effort and peace’s finest illusion. The days before the guns came out, polished and ready, before the cannons were unveiled and then veiled under camouflage, before the soldiers and their guns broke nature’s grip on reality and walked on ever-tread routes. It was a pause before routines were normalized and ingrained again.



I relished those days, those beautifully painted fantasies of a world without tension, without arms and people at them. But it was May on the DMZ, and however much nature hesitated- a foot of snow or two or three- its hushed serenity would eventually melt, and trickle away.





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