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Monday, January 19, 2009

No Two Quite the Same

Those Romantic poets, despite their sexual indiscretions (yes, Percy Bysshe, it's true) and their predilections for "borrowing" images and ideas from their sisters without acknowledgment (I'm looking at you, Willy Wordsworth), sure were right about one thing: Nature can be truly sublime.

Now, I know that everyone right now is all "weather this..." and "weather that..." on Twitter and blog alike. I'm no exception; I've been known to tweet "car's outside thermometer reading in the single digits on the way to work this morning" with the best of them. I sympathize with those who are tired of the shoveling already or who are living in the near-arctic temperatures of Alaska. And I know I probably make some people sick with my rhapsodies about snow. Admittedly, I do love the stuff more than most people who have to move it around, dress the kids for it, slop through parking lots in it, and generally cope with it for five months of the year.

But let me just tell you about yesterday.

With a good 15" or more of base snow, we had a nice little storm on Saturday afternoon and throughout the night that left us another five or six inches. It fell steadily, with a deeply quiet hush, as new snow upon new snow upon new snow can only sound. The view out my front door at dusk was serenely stormy, if you'll allow me the oxymoron.

By Sunday morning, our picnic table looked out of place on our porch -- an interloping contraption of metal, no longer floating in a sea of white but threatening to drown under it.

I went out with my shovel to clear the driveway and found myself stopping periodically not because the work was hard (it was) or took a long time (it did) but because the world was so beautiful that I just had to stop and stare for a while. Small flakes tumbled lazily out of the sky as I worked, refreshingly chill on cheeks that were hot from exercise. When the sun could spare a moment to peek out from the clouds, the trees cast tall shadows across the pristine expanse of what used to be my lawn.

The air was not nearly as cold as it had been the past few days, the wind was still, and the only sounds were the scoop and scrape of my shovel, the swooshing hiss of snow landing on snowbanks, and that peculiar squeak that boots make if you step just right on a spot of compacted snow. It took me nearly and hour and a half to clear the driveway and dig out the knee-deep, dense ridge of snow the plow left had behind. That bank cut us off from the street, leaving our brick house situated on a rise of ground, as if we lived on our own little island of snow. I broke it down, reconnecting us through that wide expanse of shoveled driveway to the wider expanse of plowed street -- everything still white-coated, connected, a part of this winter-scape.

I love the time of winter when our road ceases to be blacktop, when so much snow has fallen that our driveway has a permacoating. There is something comforting about the way the snow muffles sound, about the way the eye has to strain just a bit to discern where the yard ends and the road begins, about the implication of connection from one house to the next as we all are linked by this map of quiet trails.

The air is clear and bright on a winter afternoon after a storm, the sky, a mere memory of blue, not a thing of blueness itself, the branches still weighted with the burden of flakes.

And did you know? If you approach a fresh snow bank

and look closely enough

you can see individual flakes.

And no two are ever quite the same?

It's enough to take the breath away, if you let it.

Some days, you should let it.


DC Urban Dad said...

I love those pictures. I wish we had some snow in DC. If it's gonna be cold you might as well be rewarded.

E... said...


LceeL said...

That is some serious macro photography there - shots of individual snowflakes. How cool. (No pun intended - but there it is.)

Shannon Piserchio said...

These photographs are stunning - wow!

MIT Mommy said...

Beatiful. That is how our neighborhood looks too. And, after shoveling after the sun went down last night with my daughter, we put the shovels away and played in the snow. Venus was crystal clear in the night sky. Thanks for your awesome pictures.

Tabitha Blue said...

Beautiful!! I absolutely agree... we should let it. I ust love how the fresh fallen snow gives a hush to the whole neighborhood and how it glistens in the twilight, beautiful!!


Marinka said...

These are beautiful. Yesterday, when I was outside, a snowflake flew right into my eye. Before I could get a good look at it, too, so now there's no way to identify it.

Sarcastic Mom said...

Beautiful photos and sentiment. :-)

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

One of our favorite unit studies was on snowflakes - not snow but snowflakes. We had fun taking black cardstock outside and catching flakes as they fell and looking at them under a magnifying glass. Have you seen the photos of real snowflakes taken by W.A. Bentley back in 1902? Very, very cool.

Heather of the EO said...

WOW. It is mind-blowingly (that's a word) beautiful isn't it? I love the pictures. And your words. I always love those.

MommyTime said...

Thank you all for your kind words. I only wish I had a real macro lens to get super duper photos.

And, if you haven't done so, you should check out the link that Chocolate on my Cranium left. THOSE are some incredible photos! And taken over 100 years ago too!!

Mrs F with 4 said...

I repeated "MT says let it take your breath away" like a mantra as I shovelled my way out for the umpty-umpth day in a row... PLUS all the way around the back so the chimney-sweep can get to the wretched chimney tomorrow (who makes appointments for 6.30am anyway?), then around the back the other way so the heating engineer can access the even more wretched heatpump. Again.

But you ARE right, when I leaned on my shovel, wheezing slightly, the snowbank at eye level was... just... breathtaking. I'm glad you reminded me to stop, to see, to take the time to notice the beauty in the tiny details. Thank you.

anymommy said...

You almost made me anxious to leave the tropics and get back to the snow. Almost. Gorgeous pictures and words.

Jaina said...

Wow, that's so cool.


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