The memory of those days swept over him like a nightmare–the people they had met travelling; the people who couldn’t add a row of figures or speak a coherent sentence. The little man Helen had consented to dance with at the ship’s party, who had insulted her ten feet from the table; the women and girls carried screaming with drink or drugs out of public places. The men who locked their wives out in the snow, because the snow of twenty-nine wasn’t real snow. If you didn’t want it to be snow, you just paid some money.
–F. Scott Fitzgerald, Babylon Revisited
I emerged from my house today to do some late-in-the-day errands and had to clear pounds of snow off my car. A lot of my neighbors were clearing their drives too, so we all saw the spectacle of a very large “V” of geese making a very late exit (maybe from Onondaga Lake) and headed very due south at a very determined pace. Five minutes later, another whole flock doing the same. Today was the kind of real snow that sends even the bum geese packing.
I don’t know when snow stopped being considered a normal part of the American experience. You used to see it in TV and movies all the time. But then it somehow become something quaint or exotic — considered unnatural for humans to have to endure. Or rather, in our wealthy land, no American should have to endure snow. If you didn’t want there to be snow, you just threw money at it. First, money gave people wings to fly like geese away from the snow. Then, more money convinced the geese that they were exotic tropical birds.
Then the money melted like snow.