Suburban Soliloquy #75

A Last Snowfall

The office where I work is moving to a new location this year in order to save money. My fellow workers are anxious about the move. Some of them have made drives over to the new place in order to figure out the best routes, but I haven't. My understanding is that the trip will add another ten minutes to my commute. There will be plenty of time to explore the best route when the move has finally taken place. I will be driving over that roadway for months, probably years to come, and see no need to start now.

A few have visited the new location. They have hung photographs of the interior we will eventually inhabit, but I've had little interest in studying them. It is enough that I will eventually find myself in that building for months, probably years to come. In time I will see enough of that interior and do not need to get an early start.

I will miss my present desk by the large window that looks across U. S. Route One to the Princeton Nursery. From that desk I have watched deer foraging. In recent days the fallowed nursery is regularly filled with several hundred Canadian geese. I get to see the geese come drifting out of the sky with a grace they quickly lose once on the ground.

The other day I was commuting to work, listening to the news on the radio, and they interspersed the news every few minutes announcing the region could expect snow. It was only to be a dusting and was expected to later turn to rain. In any case, it was not expected to cause any hindrance to traffic. I was hoping for more snow.

Not far from where I live is Styer Orchards. The Styer family no longer owns it. A couple of years ago they sold the property, but the Middletown Township had the excellent sense to buy it and preserve the 107 acres as a working farm, now managed by a township committee. On an afternoon I had been driving past a section of the orchard when I was smitten with the view. The stark and contorted apple trees formed rows up an inclined field with patches of snow and at the far end stood an old farmhouse. It was only a glimpse, but I thought it could make for an excellent photograph, particularly from the rise of the railroad tracks that occupied the foreground. It would mean coming back on another day with my camera and wearing boots, to push through the brambles on this side of the tracks, climb up and then cross the tracks, and situate myself looking down into the scene on the other side. I have driven by a number of times, but never again was there just the right amount of snow or the correct angle of sun to produce shadows of the proper length.

For the next couple of years, with every snowfall I hoped the scene might be recreated. The exactness of the vision required the snow to be partially melted, the trees leafless, and the sun, having begun its descent, not blocked by clouds. Even if all these conditions are met, there is still the matter of my just happening to have that day off from work. So on that aforementioned morning I was driving into work, I was hoping the weatherman would be wrong, that we would receive more than the promised dusting.

This last snow began as I pulled into the company's parking lot. It was falling gently all around. Climbing out of my car, I stood alongside of it, taking the time to finish drinking the coffee I had bought en route. Falling snow filled the whole of what I could see, a million flakes delicately tumbling into the parking lot, vanishing on the asphalt. It was better than drinking the coffee at my desk.

Once inside, I watched the snow through the office window. My fellow workers regarded the snow only in terms of how it would affect road conditions, how difficult it would make their drive. Since the experts declared this snow would not impact their commute, it met with a general indifference. But I was inclined to remain hypnotized by the view in my window.

Why does the weatherman not report that a snowy day will be beautiful, that one will step outside and be charmed by the scene? They only report that the roadways will not be significantly affected so people will race home or to the mall. They don't announce that the snow will delicately come to rest on your skin, a cool spark that will instantly melt from the heat of your body, unless it gets caught in your eyelashes. They won't say that the snow will tickle the tip of your nose, will be only a hint of taste on your tongue. It will not be reported that the snow will grow doilies on the branches of evergreens and the backs of geese. They don't bother to encourage us to leave work and take a stroll in the park while it is yet snowing.

Bruce Bentzman

This essay is number 75 in a series of regular reports from the life and times of Mr Bentzman. If you've any comments or suggestions, the writer would be pleased to hear from you.
Mr Bentzman's collection of poems, "Atheist Grace" is available from Amazon, as are "The Short Stories of B.H.Bentzman"