Rain gives way to wet snow which brings forth ice which stings the face and burns the cheeks. This will all collect in the gutters and on the sidewalks and melt—and freeze, and melt—mixing with the refuse and salt and dirt. What's falling is barely a repressed drizzle. The sky has something it needs to let go of, but it never can. It keeps it packed in. It only lets you see a little of it at a time, and its shoulders creep up towards its ears.
The wind blows and blows to compensate. People bundle and trash cans tip and windows shatter. The sky scowls down at its neighbors below and is the subject of much conversation, which it only entertains occasionally. It isn’t welcoming, but at least it’s professional. Its graying, unfriendly, and uncomplicated presentation belies both the majesty above and the problematic complexity beneath.
The first drops shimmer the still mountain lake. Gradually, with gentle announcement, the water and the leaves begin a conversation. Each is carefully affirming and hopeful, washing away any lingering tensions between terra and firmament. Creatures return to their holes and trees and cabins, dozing lazily as the pitter patter ascends to a great hush.
It is a healing but not a clean dialogue. Wet leaves blanket the earth and sharp reds and oranges smear the rocks. Muddy twigs coat shoes and paws. The damp forest floor nurtures great colonies of molds and insects, themselves birthing even greater communities of life. Fertility is not just green but brown and black—not sanitary but thickly entangled and soaked.
Swamp knows no autumn. Clouds of mosquitoes and gnats blow this way and that, getting brushed aside by tails and waved hands. Gas station awnings hang off their supports. The streets are knee deep in stagnant liquids—oils, waste, flood—and the horizon is woozy with the intense heat that lurches through the bloated air. The storm blew through yesterday and is still expected to drop angry buckets later on the perpetually new buildings. There is little to do now but wait out its frustration.
Those boarded in will soon emerge and pick up the pieces of their little town. Signs will be nailed back up and convenience stores will be restocked and ice will be traded shiftily behind sheds. And despite the damage, the catastrophe is refreshing for some. For a precious few weeks, the wind's anger makes solidarity a priority, an unfortunate taste of something better that never finds its way into sustainable change.
Cool air lofts off the water and toys with powdery sand. Flashes of silver dot the shallows as vacationers shade their eyes to catch a glimpse of the neighbors they've reduced to commodity. The afternoons here are consistently flawless by their standards. Cloudless skies preside over luxurious, 75-degree off-days. Gentle waves tiptoe to the shore without disturbing their towels. Mansions patrol the road behind.
Alienated from her sisters, some would say they appreciate this February. She is proper, hospitable, appropriate. But gone from her oneness with the roil, she is pigeonholed, abused, exploited. Despite talk of her being as external to her role, her fullness is inevitable, and her postcard sterility will fade just as it is more aggressively hunted.