If I had known last winter would be the last one I'd see, I would've cupped the snow, patted and balled it, and stacked it in my freezer. I would open my freeze door from time to time and stand, awed by the whiteness of the snow, the last time I would see it outside of a dream.
Maybe I would've climbed into a snowsuit, mittens, and ski mask and crawled on my hands and knees through the snow like I did as a child, wanting to see the world as a dog saw it, soaked to the bone by the time I returned home.
I would've stuck out my tongue and tasted the cold of snowflakes. Maybe I would've knocked down an icicle or two, licked them like a popsicle, crunched off the tips, not caring one bit about bacteria, squirrel urine, or the things that plague my adult mind now...I used to taste icicles when I was a kid and never suffered. Why did I stop? Weird, dangerous, harmful---Nature and I loved more freely when I was young.
I wish I would've known that last winter was the last. I would've made a village of snowmen and snowwomen and snowchildren, complete with twigs for arms, carrots for noses, and buckeyes for eyes. I would've gone home more to Ohio, sat on the brick wall at my parents' old house and contemplated the snowflakes as they fell on my coat sleeve and melted.
Why didn't I realize last winter was my last, our last, the last one the world would know? Prophets, scientists, ancients, and politicians have told us for years that this year is our last, always our last.
Why did I take last winter for granted the way I just took yesterday for granted and last hour for granted, as if I would see hundreds more? If I'd know, I would've disconnected, gone out into the deepest woods, thrown my wristwatch far away, tossed my phone from my car window.
If I'd know what I've always known, then I should've stripped off my shirt, peeled down my jeans, and experienced Winter fully, goose bumps stinging with delicious pain. I would've laid down and waved my arms and legs and smiled at my naked snow angel. I would've celebrated the snow. I would've rejoiced in the darkness of night. I would've relished that I was human and alive and would not always be so.
I wish I would've known what I've always known.