For the snow lovers among us
these past weeks have been abundant.
Even a little too abundant
as we look in vain for places to put
the next shovel’s worth of bounty.

It’s exciting and exhausting
exhilarating and relentless.
Wet heavy snow stuck to the trees
then froze in place,
weighing down every single branch,
bending them into trails
we had already diligently cleared
and checked off our list.

Other regions have their own plights
from flooding to mudslides
tornadoes to ice storms.

It’s not so easy to move in the world right now.
We are slowed to nature’s pace
as we try to manage what has been wrought.

I will say that here in the northland
big snow brings out our good sides.
I’ve lost count of the people
who’ve stepped up and stepped in
re-clearing trails, checking in on each other,
digging out neighbors and strangers
stuck by snow and ice.

Similar stories can be found the world over.
Maybe big weather events bring us back to ourselves.
Bridging divides of the mind:
the stuff that feels so big and insurmountable,
grounding us in our common humanity.

It’s our thoughts that hold us apart
keep us separate, incredulous, outraged.
But when big snow or floods come our way
those thoughts take a back seat
to our shared experience in the world…

The bone-deep recognition that we are not in control.
That we are, indeed, in this together.
And we are, all of us, breathtakingly vulnerable.

Carrying that truth in our every day
would be too much to hold, too perilous.
So, instead, it’s an easy default, a well-worn groove
to plug back in to ire and outrage
holding one another at arm’s length.
As if this time, unlike all the other times,
this distancing trick will work,
shielding us from the plain truth of our fragility.

We can keep trying this tired cycle,
right up until something real and solid and scary comes along
and reminds us who we are
where we come from
and what we are capable of, undivided.