A review of

Snowfall in Belmont,
(February 18, 2014)

CENTRAL QUESTION: How can we keep liking snow?
Poems about snow: “Snow in the Suburbs” by Thomas Hardy, “The Snow-Storm” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Windows” by Randall Jarrell, “Snow” by Ruth Stone, The Snow Poems by A. R. Ammons, “The End of Human Reign on Basham Hill” by Bernadette Mayer; US government agencies concerned with snow: National Snow and Ice Data Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service, NASA; Superheroes and supervillains associated with snow: Iceman, Captain Cold, Mr. Freeze, Wendigo, Snowbird; Official definition of a blizzard, according to meteorologist Dave Epstein: “at least three hours when winds blow at over 35 miles per hours and the visibility (how far you can see ahead) is reduced to under one quarter-mile, due to either falling snow or snow blowing around off the ground.”

Most sequels disappoint. The further into the sequence we get, the worse they can be. Parts three or four of a film series (Godfathers, Star Warses), presidents’ second terms, mayors’ fourth terms: all strike us at best as slight letdowns, at worst as betrayals.

So the eleventh snowstorm we had this winter, the fourth this February, came to us with low expectations indeed. Its predecessors had already given rise to more than enough clichés about Christmas, fears about snow days (would school now stretch into July?), apparently futile hours of upper-body exercise (why shovel if the driveway would only fill up again?), repetitive expressions of glee in our children (snowballs!), and equally repetitive yet comical exclamations of childish discomfort (snow pants!). The last ten-odd storms had already left behind toothy mountain ranges carved by the sides of the plows, along with a block-long series of mounds in front yards, as if advertising (or mocking) the warm, slushy Sochi Olympics. After such snows, what forgiveness? And what else was left for this latest weather to do?

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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—Stephen Burt

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