It is good to go to bed early in Winter, and tonight as we sleep our dreams take punctuation from the thudding of snowploughs as they roll and bluster up and down Route 4, shaking the house yet comforting our sleep: Someone takes care, the solitary captains in their great snowships breasting through vast whiteness, cleaving it sideways into gutter drifts. If we stir as they thump past, we watch revolving yellow lights flash through our windows and reflect on the ceiling. We roll over and fall back into protected sleep.

— Donald Hall, “Winter,” Seasons at Eagle Pond

We don’t get quite enough snow in Virginia to justify it, but I still enjoy the fantasy of having a four-wheel-drive vehicle to drive in the snow (or better yet, an all-wheel-drive Subaru — I love those little tanks). It’s a lingering urge from the days when my family owned a newspaper distributorship and we were often the first ones out breaking trails through a snowstorm. I remember the satisfying feeling of security and preparedness in a vehicle designed for snow, the pleasure of being alert and focused on overcoming the danger of slick roads. Alone in a vast sea of white, I never thought of myself as the captain of a snowship, but that’s a great image, as is that of snowplows as patrolling guardians making the roads safe for the rest of us as we sleep.