I grew up in the South and was ten years old before I saw my first snowflake. It was on a “trip north” to Tennessee and was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. That same year John Kennedy was elected president and the television gave us our first glimpses of Massachusetts, a place that looked exotic to a Mississippi kid. I never took well to Mississippi, but in fairness, they took even less well to me.
After spending a summer working in the Berkshires, I graduated from college and moved here to live. Massachusetts seemed to have more dimensions, including the personal freedom to believe and be as I wished. It’s a part of our heritage in Ipswich, a heritage which includes a seasonal change of routines, tending to the fire and finding time for mental endeavors. It’s why I’m here, but there’s more.
Edgar Allen Poe (a Boston native) wrote in 1845 that we are all in denial of “a radical, primitive, irreducible sentiment…that could explain why I am here… I am one of the many uncounted victims of the Imp of the Perverse.” Poe observed that we wish for and do things that are not obviously to our own benefit, and continued, “We stand upon the brink of a precipice. We peer into the abyss…Our first impulse is to shrink from the danger. Unaccountably we remain.”
Yesterday as I stared at another foot of snow in my driveway I fully understood that sentiment. I started the snowblower and a couple of hours later the driveway was cleared. Perhaps because I make my living as a carpenter, I enjoy carving clean straight lines in the snow, perversely anticipating the next blizzard that will help me finish burying the eight foot light post in the yard. I turned to the seemingly impossible task of excavating our buried mail box, and looked around the five-foot snow bank before stepping into the road. The town plow was headed right at me and graciously delivered another two feet of snow to my driveway. I wondered if he enjoys redoing that which I have just undone. Perhaps we are both victims of the Imp of the Perverse. The weatherman is predicting another Nor’easter next week. I hope it’s a big one.
The winter of 2011 pushed the records for the most snow ever received here in New England, especially considering that we didn’t see a flake until a couple of days before Christmas. Here are a couple of photos of the snow growing higher and higher around our house: