One early Friday morning, Franny wakes up to an abnormally light sky. Snow, she thinks, and goes to her window to see.
Sure enough, a blanket of white covers the grass and fallen leaves, cars and light posts. The street is streaked with black, showing the snow is not likely to stick around.
I’m not ready. A surge of panic rises from Franny’s solar plexus. I’m not ready for winter.
She takes some deep breaths, and makes coffee. The steps of putting the filter in the basket, scooping in the dark grounds, inhaling their almost chocolatey aroma, pouring the water, watching to make sure the old machine does not overflow, offer up a kind of meditation. The panic recedes, but does not disappear entirely. Traces of it slither through her stomach as she takes her first sip.
Perhaps it is always such, for humans who live in four-season climates. Traces of our ancestral nervous system are still triggered by the anticipation of cold days and long frigid nights. We are wired to experience a sense of profound urgency regarding the preparation for winter, an urgency which, finding little outlet in modern electrified towns and well-insulated houses, still creates panic at the first chill of winter.
And deeper still: are we ever ready for what life brings next? Do we not routinely crave more time to prepare, convincing ourselves that if we only had an extra day, or week, or month, we would construct a sense of readiness, an affirmation of our control over our lives?
The rich, warm coffee – doctored with a touch of milk and cinnamon – gently chases Franny’s panic further into the background of her awareness. Her attention shifts to the tasks on her list for the day. She watches the sun rise, bringing more confidence that the white blanket of snow is temporary. At least, this time.