A Mind of Winter

February 13, 2024

A Mind of Winter
February 13, 2024

It’s Tuesday, and as much of the state is shut down due to the storm, I’m taking a break from legislative work to reflect on the deepening snow outside my window.

Amid the wrenched backs, canceled meetings, lost wages, and possible accidents — all of which should be noted for the real distress they cause — this snowfall is a blessing.

This is what February in Connecticut is supposed to look like. Older folks may question whether they’re waxing nostalgic in imagining that the snows were deeper long ago. They are not: a new report in the journal Climate, which tracks snowfall rates over the last 23 years, found that we here in southern New England are losing our snowpack at the fastest rate in all of North America.

And that’s a disaster when we consider all the practical uses of a blanket of snow: it insulates plants and prevents soil from heaving. Snow replenishes the water table in our wells and helps restore municipal water supplies. Adequate snowpack provides healthy ecosystems and habitats for plants and animals. And many winter-oriented businesses rely on it to earn a living.

So, come summer, when so many folks are having trouble watering their lawns, washing their cars, or filling their swimming pools, will they regret cheering the relatively snowless winter?

Anyway, to help celebrate this day and all days like it (which are getting rarer because of climate change) here is one of my favorite poems. May it remind us all of the importance, and the beauty, of snow.

The Snow Man

Wallace Stevens

One must have a mind of winter

To regard the frost and the boughs

Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time

To behold the junipers shagged with ice,

The spruces rough in the distant glitter


Of the January sun; and not to think

Of any misery in the sound of the wind,

In the sound of a few leaves,


Which is the sound of the land

Full of the same wind

That is blowing in the same bare place


For the listener, who listens in the snow,

And, nothing himself, beholds

Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.