It snowed last week—the first snowfall of the season!—but you know that. I’d like to report that I was filled with childlike wonder and glee, but I’d be lying. I sighed and said to myself, “And so it begins…”
There was a time when I would have been jumping up and down with excitement. Snowmen. Hot chocolate. Pelting cars with snowballs. (Not my greatest idea; the guy who slammed on his brakes and chased my friend and me for three blocks didn’t think so either). Days off from school. But (as I’ve said before in another context), that was then. This is now: treacherous driving conditions; shoveling and scraping; one extra layer of clothing for indoors, two for going out to the grocery store; Florida dreaming. I guess that means I’ve arrived at that stage of life when feet freeze, fingers ache, lips chap, and nose runs. Another sigh.
Anyway, with the first flakes falling, I couldn’t help but think about my brother-in-law’s favorite Christmas movie. You know, the one I mean: two war-time buddies (Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye) form a successful New York song-and-dance duo that teams up with a sisters act (Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen) to help out a crusty-but-kind general (the ubiquitous Dean Jagger) who, after mustering out of the Army, heads off to Vermont to run a cozy little ski lodge. I mean, what could possibly go wrong? Cue Hollywood’s first recorded reference to global warming, throw in a kibitzing telephone operator (played by Mary Wickes), add some inevitable romantic mixups and a memorable score by Irving Berlin, all colorized for the first time by something called VistaVision, and you’ve got an instant, all-time classic on your screen. It’s all so schmaltzy and wonderful that, “Gee!” It almost does make me want to be back in the Army.
But back to winter over here in the Mid-Atlantic on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, hon. It’s a quiet time, that is unless you happen to live next to a bend in the river that attracts rafting geese or don’t mind the sound of gunfire at dawn. Moreover, it’s a sartorially simple season: a little camo can easily get you through to March especially if you have a couple cords of well-seasoned hardwood. (I know, dear; a fireplace to burn it in would be nice, too. Someday…) Admittedly, it helps if you just happen to live right across the street from a welcoming wine and cheese shop and an iconic bookstore, not to mention a cozy pub or two. And one more important winter ingredient: friends; lots of friends, maybe even one or two generous friends who might happen to have a condo in Florida they’re willing to let you use for a week in February. Right, Bob? Amy? Just kidding. Not!
A few years back, The Beatles sang us a lullaby about a long, cold, lonely winter. Well this winter, little darling, forecasters are already telling us there will be a lot more snow than usual. I’ve asked a couple of cute woolly bears I know if that’s true, but they wouldn’t say. Given all the rain we had this summer, I’d say our chances for a White Christmas are pretty good.
Just like the ones I used to know.
I’ll be right back.
Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer with homes in Chestertown and Bethesda. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy magazine. “A Place to Stand,” a book of photographs and essays about Landon School, was published by the Chester River Press in 2015. A collection of his essays titled “Musing Right Along” was published in May 2017; a second volume of Musings entitled “I’ll Be Right Back” will be released in June 2018. Jamie’s website is www.musingjamie.com