The First Snow of Winter

Posted December 8th, 2013
the corner of the deck

the corner of the deck

Snow began to fall today sometime in later morning, near the end of Sunday Morning on CBS. Slate-gray skies and nippy air encouraged me to move briskly as I took my morning turn around the neighborhood. Newscasters solemnly itemized the cars wrecked, the trees and power lines snapped under the weight of ice, the flights cancelled and hordes stranded.

I? I finished up class preparation for tomorrow that may or may not turn out to matter. My penultimate classes could be canceled and if they are we just plan to go ahead with the presentations schedule for the final meetings.

And I keep gazing out the window by my desk, typing as I watch snowflakes change with the meteorological conditions. The fall was light and airy before lunch, bits of eider settling in the ground, clinging to branches. Then it seemed the rain might be moving in—but no, it is not yet half-past two and clumps of white, big fat congeries raising drifts over the mugo pines and assorted groundcovers on the upper terrace. A white-throated sparrow scratches and pecks in the ground where it meets the patio, slinging bits of dirt behind it as it searches for food. He’s plumb and round, all snuggled into his down parka. The blasted house sparrows which now number in the scores, huddle in the lonicera draped over the fence and they wait for me to refill the seed and suet feeders as they know I will.

When the snow stops falling, as certainly it will, I shall head to the driveway with my shovel and open a trail up to the sidewalk, then clear the parking pad so that when the air warms, as certainly it will as well, the cement will dry and ice disappear.

looking down on the Lower Forty

looking down on the Lower Forty

crape myrtle branches

crape myrtle branches

Shoveling snow was a neighborly pastime when I lived where snowfall was regular. In Merrimack, New Hampshire, we cleaned walkways and excavated cars that were idling, warming, waiting for that moment when the snowplow turned into the circle of Aspen Lane in our townhome development. We needed to move our cars so that the plow could do its job, leaving us tidy spaces at our doorsteps that did not require the paranoid guardianship typical in cities like Boston and Baltimore. We dug individually and in spontaneous teams, occasionally dumping shovelfuls of snow on Morgan, our Pembroke corgi, whose stature forced him to galumph and tunnel like some weighty orange caterpillar. When we were done there was always conversation to catch up on as Morgan herded everyone present into ever more intimate proximity.

frosted grass

frosted grass

The snow has halted. It is time to relive that past, to dig my paths, to revel in the ever earlier gloaming that portends the solstice.

Christmas is coming and this is a beautiful, soft, Christmas-spirit snow.



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