Wednesday, January 14, 2009
SNOW AT LAST!
Well, the weather oracles finally got it right…or as my Granddaddy used to say, “Even a blind hog finds an acorn once in a while.” Snow has been predicted off and on for more than a week, and this morning the prediction came true—an hour early, perhaps, but let’s not quibble with minor details. A little before eight the first flakes appeared here along the river. Within a matter of minutes a few flakes had turned to many—millions, billions—snow coming down so fast and furious it looked like a minor blizzard. Except no blizzard-wind. Just a vast white curtain descending from a still, overcast sky. Soon the ground was white. The sight apparently so inspired a Carolina wren that he perched atop the discarded Christmas tree and sang at the top of his tiny lungs. I took inspiration from both snow and wren, bundled up, and headed outside. There was already upwards of an inch of snow down. The weather oracles claimed we’d receive 3–5 inches, but if it kept falling at it’s current pace, I figured there’d be more like a foot on the ground by noon. I wanted them to be wrong on this one…com’on snow! Every time someone urges me to move south, I keep thinking…what, and miss seeing snow? I love the seasons, love the whole 365 day journey around the year. So far as I'm concerned, no sandy beach and swaying palm is ever going to replace a morning of falling snow. Snow is like a natural miracle, a magical spell which instantly transforms the landscape—any landscape—smoothing out bumps and rough edges, concealing clutter, gearing our eyes to notice the most subtle nuance of hues. This weedstem is brown, that one gray, another golden, or with a faint purplish tint which reminds you of a knitted shawl your favorite aunt often wore. A male cardinal on a limb is like a spot of living blood; the female, though not as bright as her gaudy mate, nevertheless stands out, elegant in sophisticated understatement. To not like snow is to be unimpressed by one of nature’s genuine wonders. I no more understand such an attitude than I understand how someone doesn’t like dark chocolate. It was cold—8 degrees at dawn, maybe 12 by the time I began poking about the riverbank. Slush was collecting in the stream’s slower side-currents, while ice was starting to form—or was expanding—in the quiet pools below and above the island across from the cottage. Moon the dog raced around the yard in glee, oblivious to her advancing years. She’s always loved snow—loves playing in it, snuffling through it, wallowing atop it in joyous delight. I spent a minute or two chasing and jumping at her, which invariably set her off on ever more vigorous run-arounds. We were both soon out of breath. Finally, I decided I’d better give the yard back to the birds and squirrels, allow them to continue eating the seed and suet and cracked corn I’d put out at daylight. What’s fun and pretty to us can prove a life-threatening weather obstacle to many wild things. Too, I was getting a bit concerned about the snowflakes I kept having to brush off the top of my digital camera. Micro-electronics and moisture don’t mix. And so I coaxed my old dog inside. Maybe later, after the snow stopped, we’d make another round, take a few more photographs, check out corners we’d missed on this brief excursion. In the meantime, a wood fire would feel nice and a second cup of tea wouldn’t hurt. What I mostly wanted to do was sit back awhile and watch it snow.