It takes a few years in the snow to fully appreciate what those crystallized depths have to offer an over-bundled soul. Of course there are a few instantaneous qualifiers -- if you’ve burnt up a half-a-dozen snow blowers in a single season, spent half a morning brushing, chipping and hacking into your car only to find the battery was dead, or slid half way through a red light during your driving test. Otherwise, you need the drain of a few harsh seasons to capture the wonder of a white winter.
Snow has the power to alter a landscape without intrusive destruction. Within a few hours I’ve watched a flat prairie morph into sleek hills and gray valleys, a shifting medium molded within the boundary of earth and sky. It’s the only hope a mid-western state has of transforming wind current into three dimensional public sculpture.
Nothing forces the hand of procrastination like snow. I love its willingness to cover the grime and death of fall in a coat of heavy marshmallow fluff. A snow day is the only time of year I can look upon my yard and not see the work patiently awaiting my attention: untilled soil, browned stems needing to be cut and raked away, a lawn that’s second-guessing the value of hibernation. Gone are the rusting drain pipes, the bits of paper snatched from my neighbor’s trash on a windy Tuesday, and that paint stain I’ve tried repeatedly to remove from my driveway. To wake to a morning of deep fresh snow is an offer to spend the day on an untouched beach of crystal white flakes.
Snow embodies simplicity without sacrificing variety. It falls in more flavors than ice cream and carries more names than Beyonce. Here are some of my personal favorites: Vanilla fluff - fine flakes that fall in a torrent, turning people into humped shuffling ghosts; Crème Brûlée - snow that has melted then refrozen until the top layer cracks beneath your boots; and Cookie Dough - heavy compacted chunks that get pushed about in layers of fresh powder.
The next time you're giving snow a few unsavory names of your own, remind yourself that snow knows nothing of time. The very construction of a snowflake, crystal piling upon crystal as it drifts into existence, is slow. Everything beyond that is a shifting process of transformation. Flakes that build, drift, shift, melt, refreeze, compact, and eventually evaporate. When you wake to find your view has been bleached white, plug yourself into low gear. Your efforts will be more about survival than accomplishment. This is the perfect time to slow down, take stock, and Own the process of transformation in your own life.
Snow is also a natural equalizer. Suddenly, we're on unsteady footing yet again. Driving becomes a bumper-car game played out on the route with the least amount of hills, bridges, and inexperienced drivers. I sympathize for my fellow drivers (who have as little control as I do) while I dish out words of wisdom to their vehicles. I begin with the car fish tailing ahead of me, “Florida plates? Who let you out of the garage?”; then it’s my car “Easy on the gas! Eeezzzyyy! Okay, there you go! You’re doing just fine”; then car behind me, “OH NOOO! You’re sliding!!! Swing into it!! Swing!!”; and every car driving at me like a headlight seeking missal: “You’re slipping right! Pump the brakes!!! Pump them!!” By the time I’ve made it to the safety of a building, there’s just enough time to recompose myself for the drive home… in the dark.
A hush comes over the land when it snows, like a thick cotton blanket to lie across Mother Nature’s lap. Water no longer splashes, birdsong refuses to carry, and the friction of feet and tires becomes a muffled crunching. Even light is torn down and scattered.
Snow reminds us to appreciate simpler things. Odes are sung for a single layer of clothing, hands that function unhindered by gloves, and a walk to the mailbox without the fear of a hip replacement. It makes you covet the pleasure of heat -- squares of sunshine stretched out across the carpet, hot cocoa, a steamy hot tub, and logs burning in your fireplace. Snow lacks the quality of convenience.
Winter will demand a few more months to huff its icy breath down our collar; to blow and rage as we give her our best struggle in return. And when the wind turns warm, may we give a final praise to all that snow can offer, the greatest being its ability to support the green buds of spring.
Have you grasped everythng there is to love about snow? Are you going to spend the rest of the season fighting the fluff or appreciating it? Do you think this season possesses some lessons for you? Are you going to own winter or let the opportunity pass?
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