Sunday, November 16, 2008


Yesterday we marked a milestone of sorts here along the river. The occasion was the season's first snow—a snow made all the more memorable by it's unusual nature and setting. The day began in rain—carried over and continued throughout the night from the day before. I'd spent most of the morning and afternoon in my work room, unboxing and adding books to a big wall unit of shelving I built a couple of weeks ago. Occasionally I'd glance out the window near my desk at the yard and river beyond. From time to time I'd see one of the resident blue herons fishing or flapping up or down the stream, or maybe a gray squirrel or two chasing about in the fallen leaves. For a while I watched a red-bellied woodpecker working the big seed feeder that hangs from the soffit just beyond the glass. Throughout the morning and during the first half of the afternoon, the rain came down unremittingly if not particularly hard—though the showers were hard enough to get you wet in a minute or two, and far more than Moon-the-Dog likes if she has to go out for a doggie break. The day's temperature had started off in the low-40s, and had been steadily dropping. However, it never quite got down to freezing. The snow began in mid-afternoon, and commenced with an increase in the rain. One moment it was rain only, the next you could see big flakes of snow mixed in. The rain-snow combination never did get to the fifty-fifty ratio—there was always more rain coming down, though once or twice it might have gotten to a sixty-forty mix. And rain mixed with snow isn't in itself all that unusual. What was unusual, though, was the size of the snowflakes—huge, many a big as a silver dollar and quite a few the diameter of a coffee cup. I could visually track some of these enormous falling flakes as they came down between the house and the sycamores on the far side of the river, or looking directly downstream, upwards of a hundred yards! Unbelievable! The fall of monster flakes only lasted a few minutes. After that it was back to rain and the occasional bit of slush. Of course none of the flakes—big or small—stuck to the ground. Still, they were quite the biggest snowflakes I've ever seen.

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