Quiet Desperation

Knock off the buffering against winter suffering

Column by Craig Marshall Smith
Posted 2/20/18

This is the winter of my discontented discontent. You call this winter? How am I going to appreciate spring if winter is spring? I need a few sunless days, and to be closed in by snowbanks. I want …

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Quiet Desperation

Knock off the buffering against winter suffering

Posted

This is the winter of my discontented discontent.

You call this winter? How am I going to appreciate spring if winter is spring?

I need a few sunless days, and to be closed in by snowbanks. I want the feeling of weather oppression to burnish my soul. My soul is not getting burnished.

When I lived in Michigan, we had four months of winter, four months of spring, four months of summer, and four months of autumn.

One reason I love it here is the unpredictability. Winter comingles with spring, and sometimes winter comingles with summer.

However, now and then, I want winter to comingle with winter. I want to suffer a little, to slide around on the roads, and fall down on the driveway.

I want to see my breath. In the living room. I want Dr. Zhivago to make a house call.

You call this winter? Why I oughta.

I know I could go find it. Get in the car and throttle along on I-70 west for a couple of hours. No thanks. I want winter on my doorstep.

One blessed winter we had a blizzard. I got out something called a snow blower. I was clearing the driveway when I heard a beautiful sound.

I ran over a frozen newspaper.

It was chewed and spat.

A melody.

I see men and women and teenagers in stores in shorts and T-shirts. I saw a shirtless jogger.

I want to be snowed in with nothing left in the cupboard except saltines and bouillon cubes.

I want Punxsutawney Phil over for lunch.

I want to live like the pioneers, at least for a week or two.

Winter is being too polite. Winter is being discreet.

This morning winter even apologized to me: “I’m 10 degrees above. I know you want 10 below. I’m trying.”

How can I have cabin fever if I don’t have cabin fever?

I’ve looked at old columns, written when winters were winters, and they have a deeper substance. How can I write from a deeper place when it’s a day at the beach?

My sister lives in Michigan. She has been complaining about winter since November.

I said, “Send me some of that and I will send you some of this.”

Do me a small favor. I don’t want to hear, “Be careful what you wish for,” for two reasons.

First of all, it’s as tiresome as “We need the moisture,” and “Hearty man eat a toad.”

Secondly, I don’t want to be careful. I want exactly what I am wishing for, the school closures, and the snowballs to my head.

Mittens and galoshes and scarves and turtlenecks on top of turtlenecks.

We built snow forts in Michigan. Each team would have an hour to build a fort, and stockpile snowballs. It was divine.

One year, I made a snowman that looked exactly like Annette Funicello. Mama mia.

One year, the power went out and we had to huddle together to stay warm. And to stay alive.

This? This is all wrong.

How can I say I miss nice weather if it never goes away?

Writers summon something almost inexplicable from their inner being during periods of hardship.

It’s hard when there’s no hardship.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.

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