It's a Tuesday in March. On Sunday, here in rural upstate New York, there was snow. Lots of snow. Two feet, the weathermen say. Looking at my buried car, my buried trees, my buried roof, and in one heart-stopping moment my buried pet, I suspect there was more. The number of snow days since December has gone beyond my ability to count. It's the Twilight Zone. I drink coffee and stare at my back yard, thinking spring will never come. There will never be another flower, another blade of grass. Budding leaves will not return. My more reasonable weather life on Long Island, not so far gone, seems an age ago. Once I traveled around the world. Now I lay fires and shovel snow. Once I stood looking out hotel windows in Hong Kong. Now I stand at a window in my kitchen, looking at cardinals, red against white. Once I watched lions mate in Kenya. Now I watch a small dog named Harry, and fear he will vanish, muffled, in a snow bank. Still, inexplicably, I am happy here. The return to my hometown has revealed surprising joy.
On Sunday, in the snow, my town celebrated St. Patrick's Day. Early, because of the bagpipers, who have other commitments in bigger towns. Main Street was full of floats, marchers, music, children, happy bundled Irishmen. I rode on a float this year, ballast. I've ridden the Concorde, but never a float. I waved to the few hardy townspeople who ventured out in scarves and boots to watch us pass. Everyone was smiling. A friend has been voted Citizen of the Year, her name splashed on a banner attached to a big truck trundling behind us in the parade. What, I wonder, are the duties of one deemed Citizen of the Year? I think she wonders, too. It doesn't matter. How delightful to have such an honor, whatever it means. Small town life is full of possibilities, and being a good citizen is enough to be recognized.
What was it Miss Marple said? That little places are microcosms representing human nature throughout the world? I've seen the world, or at least many parts of it. Venice, Rome, Paris, London, Vienna, Madrid, Prague, Nairobi, New York City. I've also seen the St. Patrick's Day parade in Manhattan, but I'm sure there were fewer smiling faces there than here in the snow, on Sunday.
I pour another cup of coffee, knowing flowers will bloom. And secretly, I like the snow, though I can't admit that to my friend whose job it is to push cascading drifts aside for churchgoers across the street. Instead, I offer him a warm fire and we talk about the weather, the parade, the Methodists' pancake breakfast. We long for spring, just around the corner, and watch my dog sprawl at the hearth. We are good citizens. I hope this place does represent the true nature of the world.
It's good to be home.
- Kathleen Yasas
- Newspaper columnist; blogger; author of Delta Dead; author of 101 Tip$ From My Depression-Era Parents; author of Australian Fly; editor: ...And I Breathed (author, Jason Garner, former CEO of Global Music at Live Nation), "A History of the Lawrence S. Donaldson Residence"; "The Port Washington Yacht Club: A Centennial Perspective"; "The Northeastern Society of Periodontists: The First Fifty Years"; editor: NESP Bulletin; editor: PWYC Mainsail; past editorial director: The International Journal of Fertility & Women's Medicine; past editor of: Long Island Power & Sail, Respiratory Review; Medical Travelers' Advisory; School Nurse News; Clear Images; Periodontal Clinical Investigations; Community Nurse Forum