It had been snowing here for most of the day. Forecasters said it's a "Nor Easter". Anyone who has lived here for more than twenty minutes
in this part of New England, knows that a storm like that could potentially deliver huge amounts of cold wet snow. This time, however, there is only 3-4 inches of very light, dry, sparkling clean frozen moisture that has fell from the sky. This cotton white blanket has covered everything in a beautiful shimmering soft wrap. Trees, streets and sidewalks, cars and power lines. All have been transformed into a gigantic snow globe. One that doesn't require anyone to shake it to move the crystals about. Mother Nature has left her winter cloak.
I have been listening to the weather predictors say that the storm should be passing this neck of the wood and moving on up the coast to visit with New Hampshire and Maine. Now for us, there begins the task of removing some of what has fallen on everything around us. A daunting task. With the end almost in sight, it is time to don the winter gear. The time for shoveling has arrived. I get out my boots and warm woolen socks, my orange L. L. Bean Ranger Parka. This coat has been tested to withstand weather up to 40 degrees below zero. A comforting thought. Fortunately the temperature outside is nowhere close to that and I feel confident I will be kept toasty warm. I stuff my hands into my winter gloves and pick up my weapon of choice to do battle with this latest onslaught outside. As I stand ready to open the front door, my thoughts turn to Jamaica. That isn't what most people would be thinking about, but then again, I am not most people. Those kinds of feelings are what really keep me safe and warm.
Stepping out the door, I stand for just a moment and gaze at the surrounding area. As the storm is moving away from here, there are only small remnants of snow gently floating to the ground. I watch as the white flakes are swirling and filling the evening sky with shimmering reflections that glow in the lights of the street lamps. This sight gives rise to the dark night sky of Jamaica where millions of stars twinkle. Tiny distant points of illumination. Blinking and shining and filling the dark black canvas overhead with specks of light.
As I begin the removal task, I can feel the weight of the heavy cumbersome winter wear, that is designed to keep me dry and warm. Again, my mind drifts to Jamaica where I will trade in my parka for a tee shirt, shorts and bare feet. Interstingly, I will still be dry and warm. Very warm.
I take a deep breath and sigh a sigh of resignation. It has to be done. But I'm not looking forward to it. As I start pushing the white powder from the landing, I notice how quiet it is outside. There are hardly any of my neighbors out to begin their snow moving ritual. There are no cars zooming down the ice covered street. The shovel scrapes against the stone stairs. The sound echoes in the wild winds that have been howling all around me. It almost feels as though I was the last person remaining on the earth after this most recent attack. I look up at the night sky letting the snowflakes hit my face and melt down my cheeks. Silence. Quiet. Very still. Then with another heavy sigh, I return to the task at hand. Clearing my little space on the planet. If there is a good point to my work, it is that the snow is very light and powdery. I am able to use a push shovel and don't have to strain my back lifting shovel full after shovel full. And once again, I am reminded of my warm retreat in
Each morning when I awake, I go to the balcony to take in some of the first rays of sunshine. It is also quiet without hubbub of happy guests. Most of them are still snuggled up in their rooms. Perhaps dreaming of what adventure they would encounter today. Looking down the beach towards
, a solitary figure walks back and forth along the beach. He is dragging a big wooden rake. I recognize the face immediately. It is a long time friend,
. The original beach comber. Back and forth he walks with his weapon of choice, bringing
to the sands. Putting white lounge chairs in order side by side. Restoring peace and tranquility and brings order to last nights chaos.
So too, as I move from stair to stair, all the way to the sidewalk, pushing everything in my path out of the way. I can feel
presence here with me. He walks beside me, smiling and laughing as he so often does. Having those kinds of thoughts, the white winter flakes bounce off my water proof parka, the job is made that much easier.
I am almost always thinking or dreaming about Jamaica. There is not a day that goes by that I am reminded of my tropical oasis. Whereever I go throughout the day, there are reminders of my island get away.
In every room of the house there are pictures, wooden wall hangings. Sea shells and memorabilia, palm trees and so much more. In my car, I have a figure of a person lying on a hammock. It is made from one long piece of wire that has been bent and twisted to form this figure. It is painted yellow red and green. Each time I get into the car, I give the little guy a push and watch as the hammock gently rocks. On my motorcycle I have a black rubber wrist band around my speedometer. It just says, Jamaica, and is colored red, green and yellow. Even at work the box cutter that I use all the time, has a sticker on it that says, what else, Jamaica. Every day when I get home from work and take off the required blue polo shirt, black pants and black sneakers, I put on my dungarees and a tee shirt that came from the tiny Caribbean nation. These items and more, constantly keep me focused on the "prize" and help drag my tired winter worn body through another hour, through another day.
This winter has been especially
and I have to work just a bit harder in order to hear the soft splashing of the emerald green water as it comes ashore. The wicked winds that chill me deep inside, are turned into gentle wisps of soothing comfort as I languish in the hot tropical sun. Amidst the harsh sounds of a snow plow that goes by, the roar of a neighbors snow blower, I strain to hear the whistle of a red winged blackbird as it surveys the main dining room looking for a tasty morsel for its morning nourishment. I scan the clouded winter sky and search for seagulls and man-o-war birds gliding far overhead on the warm updrafts created
to labor in the less than tropical wintry white conditions. I pause every now and then to catch my breath. I rest my
fingers on the handle of the shovel and lower my head to my hands. Standing there with my eyes shut, nose running and the northern winds endlessly howling and blowing all around me. I conjure up ever so
of Damion or Kirk or Nicolette as they go about their daily routines. I see them wave and their smiling faces call to me, and in turn, cause me to smile.
, if only it were true.
By now I have cleared the stairs, the sidewalk and both of our cars in the driveway. I don't feel any sense of accomplishment because in due time, there will come another storm, with more floating white geometric flakes that will require me to return to a seemingly endless winter ritual. My only salvation are the imaginary voices, imaginary warmth and
friends I long to see. But for now, I
back into the house to rest and find warmth from the gas flame on the stove. Slowly, feelings begins to return to my fingers.
So for the time being, I have only my thoughts to comfort me. I know that this endless cycle of shoveling and clearing and sniffling in the icy temperatures, will pass. Not soon enough, but they will pass. There will come the days of short sleeve shirts, a bathing suit and nothing on my feet that will walk in the soft
sands of the tiny cove in the magic kingdom in the far away West Indies.
But for now, I must wait. Wait for the ever so slowly passing minutes and hours and days will soon transport body and soul to a place that I could never have imagined fifteen years ago. A place of
beauty, soothing surroundings, manicured lawns and shrubs. There Mother Nature puts on a display of her finest offerings. Those thoughts carry me
each day and offer much hope for brighter, warmer days to come.I know there will be much better days and nights. I know that the only cold freezing
will be the clinking sound of ice cubes in my "
Then I won't have to imagine sounds or sights or marvelous aromas. It will be all around me. And I will make each precious day, a wonderful day to remember.