After the Storm

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There’s a graveyard of rotting machinery in the woods behind my house: forgotten tractors, decrepit digging equipment, and the skeletons of ancient cars, half-sunken in the earth. I go there, after the storm, to watch them decay a little more — bit by bit, paint chip by paint chip, molecule by molecule. Every year, they crumble a touch more, sink an finger deeper.

It’s always fascinated me — this place in winter: the rich, earthy brown of mechanical husks against the pure white of snow. These contraptions of human design that, once upon a time, sputtered and roared with unnatural noise, that lurched about by the power of combustion engines — now dead and purposeless. Together here with the stillness of a fresh snow — more silent than silence.

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You would think I would feel old and alone among the bones of the past, set upon from all sides by the numbing cold, every sound I make dulled into nothing by the powdered ice. I don’t, though. You can’t feel lonely after a snowfall. It’s impossible — just try it.

Loneliness is about distance. It’s about empty space. It’s about feeling disconnected. And how can you feel disconnected when everything is so near? After the storm, the only thing that is real is this tiny space you inhabit. Everything outside is a dream. Even the sky is gone — someone has drawn a cozy grey curtain over it, just out of reach.

Your whole being expands to fill the world as you know it, and you can’t be anything but happy.

Of course, you’ll have to drift off to sleep eventually. In the morning, the curtain will rise. The sky will come out again. The world will blink back into existence. But it’s okay — it’s hard for it to look scary all coated in white fluff.

I’ll have to bid winter farewell soon enough, but for now let me have my fun. Just give me one more storm before spring. Just one more icy-cold morning. Just one more snowflake.

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