We’ve had so little snow this winter in Vermont that this morning’s deep snowfall comes almost as a kind of surprise. The day before, a cold rain fell all morning. As I bent into work, I kept glancing through the windows, glad of the indoor work that morning.

This snow is the classic, pillowy powder of the most magical childhood memories. Sure, spring is far in the offing on a day like this, but the billows and mounds embody winter’s profound silent beauty.

A decade ago in my life, this kind of storm would have whooshed in with a number of worries — will the sugarhouse collapse before the roof is raked? How long can I endure cooped-upness with small children? Will our firewood hold out? These days, my worries are different, as my life is in another place. But I’ve changed, too. We’ll do what needs to be done. What doesn’t get done, perhaps doesn’t need to be done. And some sun is in the forecast for this weekend, too.

[The 1800s opium epidemic in China] was once widely interpreted as a story of a once noble society destroyed by a powerful drug, but more recent scholarship has argued that this simplistic explanation overlooks the turmoil, poverty, and widespread dislocation caused by the wars themselves which in turn exacerbated the epidemic.

Carl Erick Fisher, The Urge