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Melancholia is a liquid state. The insidiousness of water is in its power to seep into every crevice, and to slowly alter landscapes with no more than an imperceptible trickle. Water creates a path where none existed before.

In this way, water can be stronger than rock.

The snow was brief this year, and most of it has melted away, creating paths to nowhere important. Real journeys take more than a handful of days. The time for hibernation and astral travel under winter’s darkness and blanketing snow evaporated in the sunshine before Groundhog Day. It feels much too soon.

I enjoy a time of rest, darkness, and contemplation during the shorter days of the year. I enjoy going dormant, especially if snow falls all day and the house feels chilly. I can bundle up, hold a warm cat, drink hot tea, or better yet, a hot toddy. I can watch the snow fall for hours, and never feel bored. Soaking up the quiet is a pleasure.

I enjoy the silence of snow. I shovel by hand because I can’t bear to break the spell. Shoveling is hard work, but it makes coming back inside to warm up all the more delicious. Physical labor is the perfect complement to introspection.

Spring is already revving up its engines this year on the first of February. Hellebores and primroses are flowering. Crocuses, daffodils, snowdrops, ipheon, and a few tulips are poking their heads above ground. Lilac buds are swollen. Buddleias are sprouting sage green leaves on the branches that need to be cut back. Oakleaf hydrangea and red twig dogwoods never lost all their leaves. Pincushion flower, snapdragon, sea thrift, marguerite daisies and yarrow remained evergreen all winter. I am dismayed by all the sunlight.

I love the spring with all its color and excitement, and the work that starts up in April or May. But now? In February?

Today I read the U.S. Hardiness Zones Map changed. Welcome to climate change. Welcome to zone six. My Michigan born husband assures me there will be more winter and more snow, and warns me not to get too excited. But what I feel is cheated. I feel cheated out of winter, cheated out of dark nights and snow-hushed days, cheated out of impossibly big snowstorms and the cathartic anger I can best exorcise while shoveling the whole damn corner lot. Yes, I feel cheated out of the subdued mood of winter and the weather’s permission to be melancholy.

I’ll try to make my peace with zone six. I’ll try to learn to love the early thaw and the possibilities for new plants like Peruvian lily I planted last fall, protectively mulched against a zone five winter that never materialized. I’ll try to learn to love zone six, but to be honest, I hope this year was a fluke.

I caught our one big storm of the year on camera; here it is for your contemplative, melancholy delight. Let’s hope for a big white blanket of never-ending quiet next winter, with many hot toddies to sustain the hush.

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