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The Day the Earth Stood Gently Still

I’m not usually one to look backwards, but today I am experiencing a gentle yearning to turn the clock back, just a little bit, to yesterday and the loving gifts of the 2007 Valentines Day Blizzard.

I awoke to nearly three feet of new snow, mounded high to create a puffy, fluffy landscape. And while the snowfall really did not impact my plan for the day (I had no appointments that were going to take me out of my snug home), something felt profoundly changed. Maybe it was the combined glee of thousands of school children joyously free for the day to play in the best snowfall this state has seen in some time; or perhaps the added giddy pleasure of skiers, snowboarders, and other winter sports enthusiasts looking forward to cutting first tracks in virgin powder. But, I think it was more. I think the profound difference I felt in the day was brought on by a community in gentle surrender.

We weren’t in crisis or overwhelm. There weren’t any reports of bad accidents or deaths (though sadly this morning some of our farmers are dealing with the real tragedies of barn roofs collapsed by snow). No state of emergency. No widespread power outages. It’s just that you couldn’t hurry. And in most cases, you couldn’t actually go at all. You just had to stay put. So, we sighed a collective, and even happy sigh — and we stopped.

People stopped to share stories. We reminisced about the big storms of our childhoods. We checked in with each other. We joined forces to help someone else dig their car out of a six foot snowbank. Our little neighborhood spontaneously created a behind the scenes hotline to help make sure everyone got plowed out after our venerable plow master found himself in the dreaded “half-on/half-off-can’t-move-an-inch-gotta-wait-for-a-tow-truck” stuck that snagged many — novice and well-seasoned alike. Shoveling the walkway became somehow an act of love. And joy…some of us may even have ridden our snow shovel like an improvised sled down a steep and blazingly fast driveway (or maybe we just imagined it…).

No, this wasn’t a plodding, grumbling, complaining kind of coping. It was surrender, tinged with wonder and awe. It was flavored with warm wood fires and steaming hot cocoa. All of a sudden the world around me was moving at my meandering pace. It was divine.

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