Saturday, 26 June 2021

'Before the Storm' by Kelle Schillaci Clarke

We flip channels, exchange screenshots from weather apps, compare overnight forecasts. “Do you think it will be like 2019?” we small-talk with other cold, bored parents at the park, while our kids spin out on the merry-go-round, demand under-dogs on the swings. “As long as it’s not like ‘96,” a local dad brags, reminding us we’re new here, our memories short-term, we don’t quite belong.

The bright sun makes us feel silly for believing such a major change is coming, but we’ve stocked up on milk, peanut butter pretzels, Sour Cream and Onion Ruffles, wine. Fortified our booze supply, just in case. We don’t know what we’ll feel like drinking once the snow arrives, but we know we’ll feel like drinking.

We’ll drink to celebrate the first flake, toasting its beauty and newness. We’ll drink when it starts to stick, from its first desperate clings to grass and our long-dead tomato plant, to when it powders the deck, buries the walkway, hides the cars, roads, and street signs. We’ll feel like drinking when the storm turns sideways, wiping down power lines, turning tiny branches to icy toothpicks, larger branches into weapons of war. We’ll go to sleep drunk from so much drinking, from the anxious giddiness of a storm we weren’t sure would arrive, then did.

You’ll stay in bed the next morning, and I will try to, but I’ll be unable to resist the lure of the window, wanting to be the first in our household, the first in the world, to look out on the patio and see the thick layer of snow covering everything—fairy gardens, hula hoops, wood stacks, ash trays—knowing it will be days and days before we’ll have to deal with all that has been buried.

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