…a couple of days make. On Friday, while A (not her real initial) and I were walking off potato pancakes in Brookline, MA, here in Keene the last of our snow was melting…in January. The standing joke in New Hampshire is that you say goodbye to your lawn in October or November, then you see it again emerging from the snows in, oh, May. This year, though, has been an anomaly, with several stints of mild weather that have melted nearly all of our snow cover, leaving nothing but scattered piles of plow-pushed snow along roads. Last week’s warm snow-melting temperatures are so unusual, the local paper published a front-page picture of a man standing outside in a light jacket painting the snow-devoid landscape around Mount Monadnock, the accompanying caption asking, “Where’s winter?”

Well, guess who’s back?

This morning when I woke up at 7:00, the snow had recently begun, with just a dusting on otherwise bare ground. Around 10:30, I looked outside and saw the trash and recycling bins I’d set on the curb first thing this morning were already topped with a several-inch snowcap. The snow is forecast to last throughout the day into tonight, with a predicted accumulation of four to seven inches. Yes, that’s more like it, a day-long snowfall that feels more like a proper New Hampshire winter.

So, what do we do here in New Hampshire in the middle of a day-long snowfall? If that snow falls on a Monday, when I work from home, “we” do what we do on any other at-home workday. On Monday mornings I take out the trash, then I post the next week’s batch of assignments for my online class. That accomplished, I move onto the other oft-repeated elements of my morning ritual: let the dog out and stand aimlessly while he does his daily sniff-and-pee routine. (This morning, I stood in a swirling sea of snowflakes, feeling a bit like Gabriel Conroy at the end of The Dead, the snow general all over southern New Hampshire.) Come inside and fix food for the dog and oatmeal and tea for myself. Eat oatmeal at the kitchen table, then sip my morning tea while writing four pages, more or less, in my large ruled Moleskine. Do dishes, then meditate either before or after the daily shower, depending on my mood. These tasks complete, then it’s onto Monday’s tasks: online papers to grade, Tuesday classes to prep, Monday photos and blogpost to upload.

It’s not an exciting life I lead watching snow come then go over morning cups of tea; at times, my quiet existence here in New Hampshire makes May Sarton look like a social butterfly by comparison. What a difference a couple of days make…but what difference is made by our days, our lives? Does it matter that this year was milder than most, that this year I saw bare ground in January when I’d typically see only snow? What difference does it make, really, if today’s snow is general all over southern New Hampshire; what difference did Gabriel Conroy’s snow make? Today’s snow will be melted by spring if not sooner, and swept away from roads and sidewalks by afternoon. And so our moments, like swirling snowflakes, pour through time, so many morning cups of tea swallowed by invisible maws. Tomorrow, today will be forgotten…so what difference will we make while it’s still today?

    A humble nod to Teju Cole, whose rhapsody on Joyce is to blame for today’s thoughts of Gabriel Conroy. If you aren’t already a regular reader of Mr. Cole’s travelblog, be sure to catch today’s post with its paradisiacal final stanza.