Longing for Four

Feb 1, 2022 | Gratitude & Other Reflections, Poetry

Heading Into Another Deep Freeze

The transition between winter and spring, in Houston, is odd. Spring feints with a warm breeze, usually between Christmas and mid-January, then winter snaps back with a vengeance. Our red maple has been punked every year but one, into blossoming twice. I hope this hasn’t halved its lifespan. Sometimes I miss four, well-defined seasons. But as the decades creep past, I’m grateful not to have to shovel the driveway or drive on ice. It’s beautiful, but deadly. I never appreciated the latter, as a child, and it’s a wonder I survived childhood, as many times as I said things like, “Wouldn’t it be fun to get stuck in a snowdrift?” while my dad was navigating a snowstorm on the highway. I imagined us playing cave-dwellers, warm and safe inside the car, with nothing to do but read and tell each other stories. I never thought ahead to when the gas tank would run dry, or to 18-wheelers sliding into the snowdrift behind us. The first time I caught a patch of ice, behind the wheel, having to make split-second decisions like, “Throw it into the ditch or hope the cars in front of me will bring me to a stop before I slide into oncoming traffic?” I realized just how lucky I was. The first time my daughter, probably around the age of four, suggested that it might be fun to go slip-sliding down a hill in the car, I snapped at her. There I was, focused on keeping us alive while she thought it would be amazing to spin around 360 degrees on a country road. I immediately apologized to her, and later called my dad to say, “I get it now.” I remember the magic of Christmas lights reflected on a thin crust of ice, at night. Ice-skating on a frozen lake, marveling at fish frozen into the black ice below. I remember how joyful my dog was to run through a foot of snow, plowing deep furrows into the loose powder with her nose, then tossing it into the air as she ran back to get dry and warm again. I can hold those memories, warm and safe and dry, in my head. I don’t need to relive them, when push comes to shove.

Longing for Four

Twigs, encased with ice,
Bending low to hardened earth –
Frost bows to sunlight.
Winter-dormant seeds,
Secreted in soil, nascent,
Spring forth riotous!
Shimmers on concrete
Belie sultry summer’s drought,
Conjure thoughts of rain.
A single red leaf,
Soon joined by gold, brown, yellow,
Blankets sleeping grass.

Stay warm, safe, and dry, this weekend. Never trust the power grid. We learned that last year. Make sure the phones and Kindles are charged up. Have propane for the grill. Pile on the blankets, tuck a few bottles of hot water underneath – pioneers used bricks heated over a fire – and curl up with a good book, if you can. Spare a kind thought for the first responders who can’t tuck in, and don’t feel you’re being lazy – you’re doing you part to help them by not becoming part of their problem. If you don’t have to be out on the roads in a winter storm, don’t be.

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle, illustrated by Jordan Vinyard; A Puppy, Not a Guppy, illustrated by Ryan Shaw; and the newest release: A New Leaf for Lyle, illustrated by Carrie Salazar. She draws inspiration from her family, from her own childhood adventures (some of which only happened in her overactive imagination), and from readers both young and young-at-heart. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, J.J., whose love and encouragement make writing books twice the fun.

20 Comments

  1. Mitch Mitchell

    One of the best things about living up north is that most of those things have already been taken care of. We’ve never lost power during any kind of snowstorm, but we have when we’ve had severe ice storms. I live in an area where the plows start early, spreading sand (we don’t do salt anymore; cost too much fixing the roads every year) and this ice melting mixture to ward off the possibility of the roads freezing. It works pretty well unless it’s snowing heavily. Still, we can eat, stay warm, and probably be driving within a couple of hours at most unless it’s truly significant (it’s been some years since we’ve had to deal with that).
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted…11 Reasons You Don’t Want To Be DiabeticMy Profile

    Reply
    • Holly Jahangiri

      Dang. I hate solid black ice on the roads – we get that here, but fortunately I’ve managed to dodge any necessity of driving on it. We don’t do salt ’round here, either – nope, our roads will be slippery with sand dunes, come July, but we don’t do salt. When I lived in Florida, I insisted on undercoating for my first car. Everyone questioned the need for that, and I told them I planned to drive on Daytona Beach, and figured that was going to lead to at least as much corrosion from salt and water as a road in the northeast. 🙂 Still think it was the right move.

      Reply
      • Mitch Mitchell

        It’s probably the best move but I’ve never done it. When I was younger I’d take my car to the car wash and do the undercoating thing every couple of weeks. I haven’t done that since 1995 (how do I remember things like this) when I bought my Grand Prix, and they guy said there was extra protection underneath the car.
        Mitch Mitchell recently posted…11 Reasons You Don’t Want To Be DiabeticMy Profile

        Reply
        • Holly Jahangiri

          Right – you were washing to remove the road salt, but your car already had “undercoating.” Cars sold up north, where they routinely salt the roads in winter, usually have undercoating standard. Cars sold in other parts of the country have it as an option; if you don’t get it, the parts will corrode faster.

          Reply
  2. Mitchell Allen

    Snow, ice and winter all suck. LOL Even as a kid, I hated it. I was assigned shoveling duty, so that didn’t help. I can relate to being stuck in a blizzard: 24+ hours at a rest stoop (thank goodness we pulled in, just as the visibility dropped to zero.) We destroyed the engine because the oil ran out, not the gas. Arrrgh.

    I remember doing a 360 on I-95 and watching helplessly as a semi roared past just as we slid into the median. Nothing fun about that, for sure.

    Cheers,

    Mitch
    Mitchell Allen recently posted…Monopoly: House RulesMy Profile

    Reply
    • Holly Jahangiri

      No nothing at all fun about that! I can remember my dad refusing to turn back on the highway from Akron/Canton to Cleveland during a bad snowstorm – we had tickets to the Ice Capades for my birthday, when I was a kid, and we were GOING! (Damned near heroic or stupid – honestly never could figure out which. Sorry, Dad. I thought at the time it was heroic, but now that I know all that could have gone wrong… EEEEK!! Well, thanks.)

      Reply
  3. Bob Jasper

    OK, I haven’t visited you here in a while. Now we’ve got phpBB to remind me to do so. . . I know all about ice and those 360s. Did that once many years ago. I still remember the size of the other driver’s eyes as we careened toward each other totally out of control (and somehow managed to slide past without a scratch – my heart still pounds just thinking about it.) Still we do love living in the north, though as the years pass, I have a hard time remembering why. Oh, yeah, our grandson and his parents live nearby. Stay warm.

    Had two home repair people out today. Man am I glad I don’t have to work outside in weather like this (single-digit high.)

    Reply
    • Holly Jahangiri

      Working outside in the cold, when you live there and have the proper clothing, probably isn’t AWFUL unless you’re a lineman, heating repair, plumber, or a first responder and have to be out in the absolute worst of it. But the drudgery of shoveling just seems awful, unless you’re 10 and get to turn all the snowbanks into forts and cannonballs!

      Hey, I’m glad something reminded you to come visit, though honestly – I haven’t written much in far too long. (Well, you know – I’ve been writing. Just behind the scenes. Not on my blog!)

      I have had a very productive 24 hours. I’m kind of proud of myself. I’m kind of aggravated with computers, but I’ve caught up on a lot of backlog.

      Reply
  4. Anita Ojeda

    We have four seasons in Northern Arizona—with snow and icy roads at certain elevations. I was driving a bus last month on one such road, with the sun blazing in my eyes, when I noticed a HORSE in the middle of the road. That was fun. The horse was in no hurry to move. All of my driving during snowstorms in Montana experience and a few brushes of Angel wings kept everyone safe and alive, including the slow-moving horse.
    Anita Ojeda recently posted…Would You Rather be Like a Life Raft or a Sea Otter Raft?My Profile

    Reply
    • Holly Jahangiri

      Wow! I have encountered deer in the middle of the road, and seen bison, moose, and elk crossing in Yellowstone, but a random horse – that’s new! I’m glad your experience kept everyone safe. I think many people don’t realize that in a horse-bus collision, the horse will probably die, but so can people.

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Anita! (I hope you’ll come back, and I’ll return the visit after I refill my coffee and venture out from under my warm blanket again.)

      Reply
  5. Carrie

    I can totally relate on the four seasons. I grew up in northern Iowa and have lived in North Texas for more than 30 years. This year I have had a tremendous longing for winter. I am grateful for the grace given to me to see a little winter this year.

    Enjoyed this post very much!

    Reply
    • Holly Jahangiri

      Thank you! Ah, North Texas. Sent my kids there and neither ever came back to South Texas. It’s pretty nice up north, and I have more time to go visit.

      Reply
  6. Jill

    Loved this piece. “I get it now” rings so true. Each word in your poem is there for a reason. “Secreted in snow” is elegant and sticks with the reader. You’ve got an ear and a creative mind.

    Reply
    • Holly Jahangiri

      You are very kind, my supportive friend. 🤗

      Reply
  7. Sunita Saldhana

    We have just our three seasons! Summer Monsoons and Winter. This year it has been so cold that long forgotten sweaters and shawls were unearthed from the cavernous depths of cupboards. Now we long for the summer and when that gets too hot we long for the cooling showers. When the rain does not let up for days on end, how we long for it to end. Aah, just always wanting for what is just around the corner.

    Reply
    • Holly Jahangiri

      What’s up with this, Sunita? I was just reminding myself not to complain of the cold – it’ll be back in the 90s, soon enough, and I’ll be whining about the heat. As you say, cooling off in the shower. Right now, I can turn the tap all the way to HOT and stand under the stream as I turn our bathroom into a stream room. I feel cold from my bones out. And it’s 71°F in my house! Hardly an ice palace. (If you ever saw the movie “Doctor Zhivago,” wasn’t that ice-encased mansion gorgeous? Wouldn’t that be miserable? 😁🤣)

      Reply
  8. Jerralea

    Being raised in Floridea, I now appreciate the four seasons here where I live. I am in the heart of midwest and really have some years where there is nary a snow or ice storm … and sometimes there is!

    Reply
    • Holly Jahangiri

      I’m from Florida. Flat, no seasons… I love hills, mountains, aflame with fall leaves. I miss snow but not for driving. It IS fun to visit some place that has a foot of snow, where you can make a snowman. But it’s nice to leave it after a few days for something warmer and easier to drive on!

      Reply
  9. Vinitha

    Here in Phoenix, we never have to worry about snow. We normally visit Northern Arizona to have some fun in the snow. This time our visit cut close to the winter storm and narrowly escaped getting caught in the storm. This was our first time driving on a snow/ice-covered road (my husband drove) and it was too tricky. I am grateful to be able to live in this hot city without worrying about snowstorms.
    Vinitha recently posted…Fiction Monday – 84My Profile

    Reply
    • Holly Jahangiri

      Scary, isn’t it? My friend Ming Qian hadn’t driven in three years, thanks to the pandemic – now he’s out exploring Quebec without tire chains. He’s more gutsy than I am!

      That said, I decided after two minutes in the jetway at the Phoenix airport, when the outside temps were 122 and inside the jetway was “oven, set to broil” that I could never live in Phoenix. That whole “But it’s a DRY heat!” nonsense? SO IS AN ACTUAL OVEN. I can breathe fine in humid heat, and it rarely gets over 106, here. I don’t think we spent much time over 100 this past summer.

      Reply

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