Our parents left us all legacies in the way they talked, in their particular turns of expression and usage of words.
My father greeted my brother and me each morning by saying, “Well, here's another country heard from.” Strangely, that expression made me feel special. I was a whole country.
One of my mother's most memorable expressions was, “I'm afraid it's gonna weather.” As a child, that expression was jarring. Let's face it: Weather is always there, and the postman always goes through it just as the poem testifies.
But today, there's a canyon of snow lining both sides of the street. My mail carrier left a note shaped like a butterfly, saying the approach to my mailbox needed attention. My neighbor, who makes great soup, shared a concern that the piles of iced snow around my mailbox might be threatening the health of their pine trees.
Then, there's the factor of my own health. It's just too cold to drive out to the street, get out of my car and, risking everything, stomp a couple of yards through ice-crusted snowbanks to retrieve the ads, the requests for donations and yet another credit card opportunity.
I have responded by stopping the mail and newspapers until spring or the big thaw, whichever comes first.
Initially, the snow and the cold promised lots of sports. Colorful snowmobiles, cross-country skis and sleds suddenly appeared. Cozy inside the house, I played the winter Dilettante of the Snow by making tea, actually opening J. G. Whittier's poem “Snow-Bound,” reciting aloud and with feeling Robert Frost's “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and by looking for easy ukulele chord versions of “Baby, It's Cold Outside.”
Via phone, texts and emails, it became clear that many of us had turned to the same pastimes. Suddenly, kitchen counters all over town held warm cookies for the young folks who shoveled our walks and plowed our driveways. Soup simmered all day on stove burners, trying hard to steam kitchen windows.
In spite of knowing that most fireplaces are less than efficient, gas-log fireplaces and wood-burning fireplaces sputtered and hissed anyway and made us feel warm emotionally.
By week two, however, all romanticized views of being snowbound and bitterly cold just vaporized. Some of us poured something stronger than tea, wrapped ourselves in wool comforters and turned to books or vegged out on football and “Downton Abbey.”
More than a couple of us discovered the joy of cleaning. Cleaning closets, bureau drawers and bookshelves was inspiring — for another few days.
Then it was time to bring out the heavy-duty diversion — going through old photographs. Who knew there were so many stashed in boxes, scrapbooks, desk drawers? Who remembered ever being that thin or that young? Who remembered being that happy?
So what does “It's gonna weather” really mean? The expression today translates to “a high of 2 below zero with wind chills in the 30 belows.”
Gonna weather means that whatever else happens, the result will not be a skiff of snow or little zephyrs that make the iron bell on my patio clang gingerly. Gonna weather means it's gonna be extreme, it's gonna be mean and it's gonna have attitude.