This heartless winter drags on with no sign of respite. Is there anything to cheer us?
Not the weather, which has plunged much of the nation into an igloo of gloom. Most of us experienced relatively mild weather the past few winters; this one inexorably deals us temperatures in the teens and twenties. And snow. Lots of it, and even when it doesn’t snow, it stays cold, so the old snow decays into a uniquely urban black ice harder than titanium. The litter builds up in the city streets because the sweepers, blocked by cars plowed into gritty sepulchers, can’t reach it. In front of my building here in New York the same filthy grey knitted cap, kept company by two mismatched mittens, an assortment of crushed tin cans and plastic bottles, and the cigarette butts of the few diehard addicts remaining in Manhattan, decorate a gutter scheduled for cleaning twice a week, but untouched since January.
Not the news, which brings us Russian invasions, Egyptian repressions, Afghan treachery, Venezuelan chaos, and, at home, a relentless tattoo of debate about Obamacare (Is it working? Can anyone tell? Does anyone care any more?), the budget (still don’t have one), and the endless drone of the same old Gregorian chants: income inequality, climate change, immigration reform, education reform, tax reform, community outreach and guns, guns, guns.
Even the sports pages bring little relief. After a curiously joyless Olympics, in which the Russian hockey loss drove the hosts into a suitably Slavic depression and crashes of all nature seemed to dominate the competitions, we were left with no heroes or heroines of note to cheer. True, Putin gave all the Russian gold medal winners a Mercedes Benz, which lent a wonderfully Janis-Joplin-like air of absurdity to a hundred billion dollar farce, but smiles were hard to come by, and all that remains is the memory of weird toilets, rumors of feral dog slaughters and a sense of relief that terrorist outrage was averted.
So the mercury remains low in the glass, and no sign of spring encourages us to look beyond this winter of discontent. Yet we know that buds will appear. Robins will chirp. The days will lengthen. We will put away our winter coats. And with any luck, we’ll get a break. Politicians will start to make sense. Tyrants will stumble, if not topple. New jobs will appear. Children will graduate, some of them with a usable education.
Let’s hope for a warm spell, and spring. And let’s hope even more that it’s not a long, hot summer. We’ve had enough weather.