Looking out our windows yesterday morning (and even today) I am aware of the incredible amount of snow that fell over this part of New England in Blizzard JUNO earlier this week. There is a beauty to the freshness of the snow, which, in this case, was powdery and pure white. Consequently, the patches of snow caught in the trees and the pristine blanket of starched winter fabric is awesome.
But the reports on television tell me that everything is not as sweet and photogenic as that which I am viewing from the safety of my warm home. The islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, off the coast of Cape Cod to our east, had no power and the air was dangerously cold…accompanied by hurricane-force winds. Homes were destroyed and people’s lives were endangered. It isn’t a pleasant sight that greets many of them as they survey the aftermath of 2015 Blizzard Juno.
The aftermath is what remains now that the storm is passed (and we wait for the next two storms predicted to hit us this weekend.) * It is a word created by joining two words, after and math, making it what is called a portmanteau. Believe it or not, the word is not a new word. It is dated back to the early 1500s. We have no problem understanding the first portion of the word, after. But the second portion, math, may be more problematic. It is a variation of the words used in early times to describe mowing of the fields.
Putting these two words together, then, makes sense. After one has mowed the fields, they are left in disarray, the wheat stalks having been taken away, and just stubble and discarded stalks remaining. It is the remains of the “amber waves of grain” we Americans love to sing about. There is nothing amber or waving left. The barren fields are ready for the winter snows.
The aftermath of a storm like Juno is somewhat quiet. Traffic is absent or at a minimum. The only sounds are the scraping of snow shovels and the motors of snowblowers. Occasionally the roar of a passing snowplow. But the quiet of the town is not the same as that depicted in our poems and songs about solemn Christmas Eves with snowflakes drifting down on our shoulders. It is an eerie silence like a breath taken after a horrible moment. There is a lot of work to be done, and damage to be assessed.
Photo Credit: Doreen Coulson Putnam
*(The word aftermath is one I have always enjoyed, giving it my own meaning of having completed the last math course I will ever have to take as a requirement. Not my thing!)