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Living in the Snow: Lessons Burried in Cold Fluff

Monica Wilcox's picture

Snow Angel, by Monica Wilcox, Owning Pink, Owning the Planet

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.

The Power of Cold Fluff

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.

Choice Words for the White Stuff

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.

Owning Winter

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? 


Devon Moore's picture


Next time it snows where you live, do yourself a favor and wear some kind of fleece that will catch snowflakes as they fall. And then really look at them. Each one of them is accidentally beautiful and intricate. The natural world is capable of producing the most exquisitely detailed beauty! I'm in awe!

Deb T's picture

Looking at Snow

This weekend it snowed constantly! We have more snow than I remember having in many years. I thought about what you said when my puppy came in from her outdoor excursions, which were very brief due to the cold -24C. The flakes on her back were well insulated from her warmth by her long red fur, and so they could be seen clearly. The beautifully intricate crystals made her whole back sparkle! I almost felt sad to see them melt. Did you know that the Whos (Horton sees a Who, The Grinch that stole Christmas, By Dr. Seuss ) live their entire lives on snoeflakes and dustmotes?

Deb T's picture

My favorite

I love the beauty of snow. It can elegantly drape evergreen trees and create curving extentions to your homes eaves. It can plaster itself against tree branches making them look as if each of them are covered in their own little sweater. It can be soft, fluffy, granular, icy or come in little tiny snowballs straight out of the sky. The Inuits have a name for each type of snow, but my favorite snow is the stuff that sparkles as it falls, making the whole world glitter.

Monica Wilcox's picture


And what would you name it Deb? Winter Fairy Dust? Ice Cream Cone Spinkles? Sky Sparkles? I can visualize every picture you painted. You're obviously a woman who appreciates winter!! :)

Deb T's picture

Sky sparkles

Yes, I think 'Sky Sparkles' would be a good name for it. The snow flakes are so tiny you can almost not see them, but for the air around you sparkling. I do love snow, in many ways. It's too bad it has to be so darn COLD though!

Monica Wilcox's picture

Describes it Perfectly

If you don't mind Deb, I'll use the name too. Sky sparkles...I can see that thin falling snow very well.

Monica Wilcox's picture

Send Me a Snow Day

Living in the south over the last 9 years (Austin, Bay Area)makes snow days a rare and special event. I agree Devon, declaring a snow day immediately stirs up that childish anticipation in our adult heart, "Today I get to do nothing BUT play and sip hot cocoa."

Devon Moore's picture


Snow has a way of bringing out the child in everyone. Who doesn't love a snow day??

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