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In Maine, the winter brings slate-gray days that portend the coming snow. My grandmother used to say that the snow was falling because the ground was trying to match the sky. Mid-December, an afternoon lasts about fifteen minutes. Dark creeps in around the edges of the sky around 1pm, and it's dusk by 3:30. TheElmsSnow

It's easy to romanticize those cold winter scenes when we're peeling away the husky dry days of fall. Summer, when I'm outside sweating, I have no ability to imagine the same landscape covered with two feet of snow. In winter I'm incapable of picturing a day when I'd wear shorts and a t-shirt and walk barefoot through thick grass. But autumn is just a transition. Nothing is real; it's only the echo of what summer was or the shadow of what winter will be. 

In the fall I'm scrambling to get the hay put away, the leaves raked, and everything outdoors squared. I put off any indoor chores, knowing that I'll have all winter to ignore them. When winter finally arrives, it's never like I pictured. It should begin with huge storm, predicted and prepared for. We should wait, warm and insulated, eating comfort foods and enjoying nostalgia. We should be content with, and absorbed by, the mere act of surviving until the thaw. Instead, we drift sideways into the weather, fighting the elements and struggling to get to work before the roads ice up, or wishing we could get home before another accident snarls the traffic.

TreesSnowWe should be left fallow to restore our fertility. Trees know this. Bears and snakes understand. In November, my imagination knows what winter should be like. By December, I'll forget again.