What the snow reveals

snow on leaves

Despite preemptive school closings and dire warnings of Black Ice, only a dusting of snow fell here last night — not even enough to cover the ground. A good snow, glistening contentedly in the morning sun, reflecting the clean clear blue sky after the cold front, hides the mess we’ve made of the world and gives the illusion of purity, a new beginning — “a revolution of snow,” as Billy Collins writes:

its white flag waving over everything,
the landscape vanished…
the government buildings smothered,
schools and libraries buried, the post office lost
under the noiseless drift,
the paths of trains softly blocked,
the world fallen under this falling.

But the world was already fallen, and Boris Pasternak thought the snow’s motives less than pure, seeing rather

That snow falls out of reticence,
In order to deceive.
Concealing unrepentantly
And trimming you in white

For Pasternak, indeed, snow may be nothing more than the Altoids on the breath of an alcoholic: Continue reading “What the snow reveals”

Let it snow. No, really

Saturday we had significant snowfall for the first time in four years: only an inch and a half, but enough that I no longer need fear that the Monkey will begin to think the stuff a fairy tale, like Santa Claus and supply-side economics. In a normal winter we get a little snow — seven-plus inches is the annual mean — but it hasn’t snowed as much as an inch since 2004. Having grown up with doorknob-high drifts and blanket forts on snow days and twice-layered jeans that soaked through sledding and left crimson cold burns on my thighs, I’ve had to lower my standards for “significant snowfall” these latter barren years. Now I get excited by flakes no bigger than my dog’s dandruff, and my daughter, having no standards at all, makes do with whatever she finds: the five inch-high snowperson adorning our porch rail attests to the determination of a child who can read chapter books about polar bears but has never set foot in snow deeper than the tread on her boots:

baby snowpeople

Sad, but one has to make do with what one has. I filled the bird feeders, gave the ducks fresh straw, checked to make sure I still owned a snow shovel, and settled in to enjoy the show. Even the basset hounds, who had never seen snow either, loved it — a clean slate for scents, I suppose — although if we get a real snow one day, I am going to have to knit poor Everett a jock strap.