I don’t know if anyone’s told you, but gas is cheap this year. It’s so cheap that even though December had a record string of plain gray days everyone was unexpectedly cheerful. News stations canceled their spots on the warning signs of Seasonal Affect Disorder and gas stations hummed like UV-lit suburban nightclubs as we filled our tanks and zoomed back out into penetrating light of the gray void. It was the first thing off of our lips when we met each other in pedestrian places like the AT&T store. “Can you believe the gas prices? My wife and I were thinking about getting rid of our minivan, but now it’s only like $20 to fill it. $20! A few weeks ago it was like $60!” What we mean is “I have to be dreaming, right?” But it’s a collective dream, which no pinch can break. Instead generational gaps are breaking as Memory Lane overflows with children and parents reminiscing about the days when they rationed their time on the road and perused hybrid car prices on the internet.
December’s days stumbled on without a sprinkle of snow. It hardly reached freezing. We had a gray Christmas. Then, as the New Year broke, we dropped below the $2 mark. I even saw snapchats proclaiming $1.75. My demographic. I looked for my keys and prepared to happily guzzle my petroleum heart away before someone could pinch me, but, before I could even open the garage door, the sky turned white and shattered. Winter was finally coming down upon us.
And just like that, the anxiety of holding on to the low gas prices was hushed by the splendor of the first snow. I had no car to drive, and no street to get anywhere. Everything was white. Today, one hundred miles beneath my feet, the world will begin pressing carbon and in one million millennia it will be diamonds, but here above ground, the sky presses gray air and in an instant it is brilliant crystal. I remember suddenly that I am nothing more than light bouncing through facets.
Snow is reality we know without holding. Delightful to see, impossible to save. It is the pain of loss, stinging sharp and cold on our skin even as it disappears. Just as my eyes are beginning to grow accustomed to the glow, it will melt. The world will blur again into a disgusting drippy pool of mud, and I will anxiously wait for the sun.
We spend a lot of time and energy talking about what Mother Nature needs, but the old gal knows a lot better than us how to stay balanced, and whether we like it or not she does not hesitate to do so when things go awry. Have you seen any recent pictures of Chernobyl? In a vast gray wasteland where human life was banished, plant life thrives. This dry December, we burned gas in place of the sun, bruising the earth to a greasy gray, but the snow healed it. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.