Spring Snow: The Last Hurrah

My son Colin stomping in the snow while waiting for the bus. Photo by Francis DiClemente.

A few inches of heavy, lake-effect snow fell over central New York Tuesday morning. Despite the late April occurrence, I didn’t fret the spring storm. I felt invigorated walking to work, as the temperatures hovered near thirty, and I did not need to brush off the car or contend with clogged traffic.

Here are some photos I captured along the way.

Plants covered with snow. Photo by Francis DiClemente.

Park bench covered by snow. Photo by Francis DiClemente.

Tree branches covered with snow. Photo by Francis DiClemente.

Statue in Firefighter’s Memorial Park in Syracuse. Photo by Francis DiClemente.

And I’ll end with a poem that will be relevant when warmer temperatures return and spring kicks into high gear.

Winter Away

While I loathe the
wind, cold and snow
winter imparts,

I’m always sad
when spring comes
and the chill
in the air departs.

With winter leaving,
it’s like I’m losing
a friend at the end
of the season.

Standard

Spring Snow

A blast of spring snow hit Central New York last night. And guess who the idiot is who transplanted the shovels and snow brushes from the backseat to the storage unit miles away? I should have known winter isn’t done with Syracuse even when the calendar turns to spring. Next year I’ll wait until late May before putting away the snow utensils.

Snow covering my Honda CR-V. Photo by Francis DiClemente.

Snow behind my apartment building dumpster. Photo by Francis DiClemente.

The snow reminds me of a very short poem I wrote. It seems fitting for today.

Leaving Syracuse

The grass may not
be greener,
but at least
it won’t be
covered with snow.

Snow covering grass. Photo by Francis DiClemente.

 

Standard

Inspired by Signs of Spring

While taking a walk this morning, I saw a field of flowers in a small plot of land adjacent to the Syracuse Center of Excellence. Their appearance inspired a poem. And it’s yet another example of why I always carry a pocket notebook with me and a few ballpoint pens buried in my coat pockets. Fortunately, today there was enough ink in the old pen to write these words.

Yellow flowers.

Seasons

 
Hearing the sound
of my footsteps
on the sidewalk
of a deserted street
in Syracuse.

No one else around
except two teenagers
kicking a yellow
soccer ball
in a parking lot.
But I won’t report them
for not wearing masks
and failing to maintain
a six-foot distance.

Sunshine, cool air,
puffy white clouds,
budding trees and
bulbous flowers blooming
in canary yellow color.

There’s no denying
spring has arrived—
even here in
upstate New York.
But this year,
with coronavirus,
the chill of winter remains,
and April hasn’t
chased away
the shut-in feeling
of mid-February.

And I wonder,
will we be able
to celebrate spring
when summer gets here?
Or will coronavirus
postpone our fun
until autumn?

Yellow flowers, close-up.

Standard

Morning Snowfall

I looked out my window this morning and saw snow falling, with big flakes covering the windshields of the cars in my apartment building parking lot. It reminded me that snowfall is typical in late March in Syracuse, New York. Here, the official start of spring doesn’t mean the end of winter weather.

Of course everything is different now with coronavirus, but the normalcy of seeing snow falling comforted me. It reminded me that nature goes on, that life goes on. And the silence of the falling snow made me feel safe and secure, even as I remained trapped inside.

Standard

A Poem for the Start of Spring

Early spring has always been my favorite time of the year, as we put winter behind us here in Central New York. Of course coronavirus means nothing is normal this spring.

However, I am editing a new poetry collection that contains a spring-themed poem that lifted my spirits because it reminded me of happier times. I thought I would share it as we all hope for a return to normalcy.

Best Time of the Year

Snow finally
giving way
to grass
in Syracuse.

Cold mornings,
but temps
climbing
above forty.

March Madness,
Lenten fish fries
and the crack
of the bat.

Yippee …
it looks like
we’ve survived
another winter.

But never forget—
in Syracuse
a lake-effect blast
can still chase away
the Easter Bunny
and send the Moms
scurrying to their closets
to retrieve sweaters
on Mother’s Day.

Standard

Waiting Game

I should have posted this short poem yesterday, after we received a burst of snow as a cruel April Fool’s joke. But I think it’s still apropos, since the cold and snow will remain with us for a bit longer.

Plea for Spring

Dear Mother Nature:
I have one small
Request as the
Calendar turns
From March to April.
Can you give us
More Easter and
Less Christmas,
Please?

Standard

A Poem for Winter’s Lingering Grip

The calendar may say April but Old Man Winter is still holding on in central New York, refusing to step aside and let spring take over the scene. So while temps fail to crack 50—at least for now—I will offer a fictional, cold weather-themed poem from my latest collection.

Winter Morning

The woman in 309B rolls over on her side.
She reaches across the bed,
seeking the warmth of her lover’s body.
But no one is there.
And she remembers sending her man away.
She recalls a conversation filled with words
like freedom, space, and separation.
At this hour, though, she would trade them in
for flesh in her bed,
the presence of a person she no longer claims.
She can accept failed love, a relationship fizzling.
The end is not so awful
when examined with the passage of time.
She does not need the man.
She can excel on her own.
But with soft light entering her room,
and the radiator wheezing as it releases heat,
she realizes no remedy exists
for the empty feeling of being alone
in bed on a winter morning.
So she gets up,
makes a half-attempt to straighten the covers,
then goes out to the kitchen to fix a pot of coffee.
And the tasks of the day will help her
to shake off the loneliness, keep it at a distance,
until the following morning, when the yearning
for someone else nearby will return.
But let tomorrow take care of itself, she thinks.
She resigns to stop wasting time
on these cold mornings, replaying her regrets,
and bemoaning the absence of a man in her bed.

©2017 Francis DiClemente
(Sidewalk Stories, Kelsay Books)

I also wanted to mention that poet Elinor Cramer, author Jo Lynn Stresing and I will be reading from our recent books on Friday, May 4, at 7 p.m. at the YMCA’s Downtown Writers Center in Syracuse. The DWC is located at 340 Montgomery Street and you can find out more information at its website.

Standard

Lenten Reflections

Despite being a season of sacrifice, Lent is my favorite time of the year. For Christians, Lent marks a period of reflection, a time to pull inward, block out distractions, sweep away mental clutter and draw closer to the Lord in communion with the Spirit. It’s a spiritual status check and offers us a chance to recalibrate in pursuit of goodness and light.

Stained Glass Window. Photo by Francis DiClemente.

Since relocating from Arizona to my native central New York in 2006, I have enjoyed celebrating Easter more than Christmas; this preference is based partly on meteorological reasons.

Christmas leads to a descent into the clutches of winter; I think of Persephone returning to Hades and the Earth becoming barren. Here in Syracuse the clouds drop lake-effect snow continuously and ice coats streets and sidewalks as the cold gray days stretch for months. And it seems my body doesn’t fully thaw out until about mid-April. Let’s not even talk about the winter air causing dry itchy skin and my black knit hat producing static electricity and an Alfalfa-inspired hairstyle.

For those who don’t ski, snowboard or play ice hockey, winter is nothing but a drag. But with Lent there is hope in the form of spring renewal: we march through a series of events that herald a change of season—Daylight Saving Time, Major League Baseball spring training, St. Patrick’s Day, the NCAA basketball tournament, opening day of the baseball season and the start of the NHL playoffs. I realize the heavy sports theme, but your mind needs something to look forward to when you look out your window and see nothing but a wall of white.

Lent also brings the added benefit of Friday fish fries. I never quite understood the logic of Catholics giving up meat on Fridays only to eat a huge greasy piece of cod or haddock and a plate of French fries. But why complain? Moderation is everything, so pass the crispy potatoes and fish.

With the onset of Lent and the celebration of Easter, I know Mother Nature will alter the landscape in central New York. It may take a while, but the flowers will bloom, the trees will bud, the sun will shine again and the temperature will climb above 25 degrees.

St. Francis Xavier Church (Phoenix, AZ). Photo by Francis DiClemente.

Yet a spiritual renewal is even more important. Lent shifts the focus to the priorities of life: family and faith. I am reminded once again that this world and my place in it are passing away. Time ebbs and I need to strengthen my relationship with God, devoting time to it instead of making it ancillary, like squeezing in a few prayers before bed. I also strive to become more patient, more giving and less selfish. I don’t always succeed but that’s part of the growing process.

But here’s the real reason Easter beats Christmas in my opinion. Christmas is the beginning—the Incarnation, the Word Made Flesh. Easter culminates Christ’s mission on Earth. For believers, Christ’s death and Resurrection guarantee our salvation. Take away the Passion and we have no redemption. So that’s why Easter has always seemed the more solemn holiday for me. And in reviewing the Stations of the Cross, I recall the sacrifice Christ made for us. And as that knowledge sinks in, it gives me a sense of security in an insecure world.

Christ on Cross (St. Peter's Church, Rome, NY). Photo by Francis DiClemente.

Christ on Cross (St. Peter’s Church, Rome, NY). Photo by Francis DiClemente.

During Lent I also try to read the Bible more often. So I’ll leave you with a passage I ran across recently. It’s from the Apostle Paul, and although I am not one to quote Scripture, I feel this text can penetrate the darkness, bringing hope and shining light for anyone, even nonbelievers.

“We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed … therefore we do not lose heart. Even though the outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 16-17; King James Bible).

Standard