Published Monthly

From the editor ... (March 2004)
by Michael Haislip

As I write this piece, I long for spring. I stare at the forest of emaciated toothpicks reaching towards gray clouds on the hillside a mile away. The trees are suckers for the lure of summer warmth, always giving their all in foliage before the frost smacks them around. I am convinced that nature is a masochist.

Winter in Tennessee is an indecisive season, hovering between frigid and warm. The cold days are never very cold. The chill fools us spoiled southerners into thinking that we know what a real winter feels like. Anything below 40 degrees is cold here. We shiver under heavy coats and push our heaters to the breaking point. Canadians break out the Bermuda shorts at 40 degrees while laughing at the silly subtropical-dwelling fools. Canadians think they’re so special, with their … Canadianess.

I hate the winter and the browns and grays it brings. The grass dies and leaves its decaying remains on our lawns. The trees give up the fight against the cold and shed their leaves, which add another rotting layer to the sloppy casserole of dead vegetation in my front yard. The sky becomes bipolar, cycling between manic cerulean clarity and slate gray depression.

Winter seems like a time to curl up by a warm fire and die. More people commit suicide during the holidays. More heart attacks occur in cold weather. It’s nature’s way of saying “If you’re going to die, do it now.”

Snow is a rare occurrence here. Our temperate climate suppresses frozen precipitation like political dissidents under the Patriot Act. I have a love-hate relationship with snow. I hate driving on it. I hate the inevitable run on bread and milk at stores. I hate watching asinine television reporters frantically relaying that there’s snow on the ground, there’s snow on the ground, dear God, there’s snow on the ground.

It’s not all hate, though.

The threat of snow was always enough to close public schools, when I was still attending that wretched institution. For freeing me from school, snow earned my grudging respect. The monotony of compulsory education, America’s babysitter, ended for a few glorious, icy days. Of course, school administrators always got their revenge—made up for lost time and paychecks—by taking away spring break.

Snow is a blessing for worshippers of aesthetics. Snow covers the dead lawns with a brilliant mask of white purity, a temporary respite from the monochromatic January colors. As long as the temperature allows, the decomposing lawns stayed buried under a frigid cloak of ice.

Teasing periods of spring-like warmth occasionally happen. These pseudo-springs coax the trees to bud, dotting the naked gray branches with hues of pink and white. I’ve learned to not fall for this trick of nature. I’ve learned to enjoy the warmth of the pseudo-springs but I place no faith in their permanence. They are fickle, apt to vanish overnight and leave the budding trees exposed to the freeze once more.

The sunlight seems a little darker. The light takes on a grayish tone, dimming even the brightest days. Clear skies seem blacker. Overcast skies become impenetrable planes of clouds. The shadows seem to creep in a little more this time of year.

I promise, I won't be so melodramatic in the spring. I swear.

-MJH 2004

Michael Haislip is the editor of AntiMuse.

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