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My kids and their friends and everyone roughly their age will, in fact, be the last human beings to remember a stable, predictable procession of seasons.
My children have snow anxiety. For the record, this started in the winter of 2011–12 when no snow fell—at all—and sleds, saucers, skis, and snowball makers sat dejectedly on the porch, unused, next to the irrelevant and despondent snow shovel. Week after week, month after month, Faith and Elijah scanned the skies and studied the forecast. When June-like temperatures hit in March, the sight of the toboggan filled them with so much despair that they wordlessly dragged it back to the barn and put it in storage.
Which did not go unnoticed by their dad and me. When had our kids ever put stuff away without being asked? It was as unprecedented as a snowless winter in upstate New York. Nobody had ever experienced that either.
During the unfrozen winter of 2011–12, the grown-ups all walked around saying, “This is crazy!” True enough. When the temperature in the mudroom hits eighty degrees before the daytime:nighttime ratio hits parity, some synonym for insane is what the thesaurus should take you to. But “This is crazy!” also implies that we possess no rational explanation for June arriving in March. And I noticed that my son and his friends never said things like that to each other. They spoke more grimly, along the lines of, Global warming. It’s here. Now we can’t go sledding. Probably ever. So what do you want to do, dude?
When snow and ice finally fell in April—hard enough and fast enough to cancel school—it fell on tulip and magnolia petals and killed off the entire cherry crop.
The toboggan stayed in the barn.
But wishful thinking springs anew in the hearts of children, even in the face of permanent catastrophe, so, after a cherryless summer and a fall with few apples, Faith and Elijah conferred hopefully about the upcoming winter. Last year was a global warming winter. But maybe global warming winters come only every other year. Maybe this year would be normal.
The snow fell. The sleds came out. The snow melted…