Where Are the Snows of Yesteryear?

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I am writing this on a January morning that feels as if spring has leaped into our midst while we were sleeping. I know many of us no doubt feel a twinge of guilt when we step outside without a jacket, look at blue skies, know that days like this in January may portend deep environmental troubles down the road if this keeps up year after year — still it feels nice at this moment. But magazine editors live in a world where time speeds up. These are the days when my colleagues and I plan NEXT winter’s issue. Our bodies may be in the moment but our heads are with winter 2008. Winter is one of those seasons that has always defined New England. Harsh winters can be brutal to live through but we do enjoy the stories we can tell about how we coped with this blizzard or that stretch of numbing cold.

As a dad of two ski-loving boys, winter always started for me as soon as the mountains opened a few trails. We made it a point of pride to be taking first runs in mid-November. This year I am seeing some wonderful ski mountains struggling just to stay open when, by now, they should have at least three feet of base.

Talk to any native New Englander anywhere in the world and I bet within a few minutes you will hear a nostalgia and wistfulness for what they miss most about New England–our changing seasons, each unique, each gradually giving way to another. Each of our Yankee issues is planned around a season. The stories we have planned for next winter depend on, well, winter being winter, not spring. Spring is for our spring issue.

So, later today, I will take one more long walk along the river that runs past my house, and I will guiltily enjoy the sun on my face, but then I will start imploring the weather gods to give us back our birthright — the long cold snaps that have always tested us, the storms that dump the depths of snow that cause school children a few days of bliss, and then we can rightfully rejoice when spring pokes its face sometime in late March.

So if, in the next few weeks, winter comes back, don’t send me hate mail. Yes, it may be my doing — I want snow in our photos in 2008 — but I know deep down you will also be happy to see winter behaving like winter, and a winter issue of Yankee that looks like winter.

Mel Allen is editor of Yankee Magazine and author of A Coach’s Letter to His Son.


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