Saturday, January 31, 2009

Winter Notes

The winter season has never been a vast favorite but I can find it charming nonetheless. I am not a fan of the cold like some, the winter outdoor activities have never appealed - I have never even put on skis (cross country or otherwise), as I mentioned to a friend I find no reason to sled, though I like speed. I do wish to learn to ice skate but have no desire to do it outside on icy ponds.

Still I delight in watching snow fall, marvel at how beautiful bare trees are when encased in ice, particularly when the sunlight alits and makes the limbs sparkle. Shoveling is not a favored activity but I do like some physical labor and really like it when there is enough snow that one must move it in order to navigate the sidewalks and such. The Thursday before last it was delightfully warm, in the high forties to low fifties giving everyone a thin ribbon of spring fever very early in the year. After some of the brutally cold single digits, even going negative, we had just had this was a welcome reminder that it would not always be that cold. Then began the predication of much snow. Since moving to Ohio I have not seen what I consider a lot of snow, and no major ice storms so despite my less than graceful adaption back to winter temperatures I have not found winter so bad. On Tuesday we had snow, not a lot but it was pretty. Then came a freezing rain or sleet, or whatever it's called that adds that terribly frustrating layer of ice atop everything. This was followed by more snow. On Wednesday we had what I consider a reasonable amount of snow, maybe 6-8 inches here in our neighborhood; north of us got 9+ inches which I would have loved, except for the shoveling. The other thing I have noted is the snow here is usually light and fluffy. Not once have we gotten the heavy slushy type of snowfall that feels like one is moving wet cement from around their car - I consider this a plus to living in this area.

I love the quiet that snow brings with it. Cars move slower with more attention, fewer people are bounding about, and there is something about the particular winter sky right after a snow fall that is ethereal and still. All the usual sounds are either in hiding or muffled by the layer of crystallized water covering everything. The sun glints off the fresh sun fooling us into thinking there is mica mixed in with the frost. Except for walking the dog I have remained homebound delighting in the quiet, secreting loving that the cars are covered by a snow-ice-snow layer. It has been with a mix of sadness and thrill that I walked on untreaded snow on the greenway while I alternatively walk inside of others' footsteps and strike out on virgin territory. Because of the ice that fell between the snows sometimes my footstep sink, crushing the false shelf of stability; other times, where it is thicker, I feel inches taller as my perspective changes with the added height.

Yesterday I noted how similar snow can be to sand - it polar opposite in one's ideas of ideal landscapes, vacations and temperatures. In the street, where the walking is some of the easiest the snow has been churned up by tires and has the gritty texture of dampened sand. The soft crunch under my feet is satisfyingly dense and reminds me of beaches on both coasts, though in truth it probably more similar to the collection of sand on the boardwalks, bathroom stations and other sites further from the water's edge. From there I head to the greenway and walk the virgin area where the snow now resembles the sand dunes on Cape Cod - weightless and easily blown about by wind, my foot gently submerges briefly before kicking up a wisp of snowy crystals as I step.

This morning I woke, knowing by the way the light was falling that it was before 8am though I had no clock by my head to confirm it. I had given up on falling back to sleep despite how I love and crave sleep because it just seemed to beautifully quiet to miss. As I walked the dog this morning I watched my breath as I exhaled but this time carefuly noted as the breeze carried it to and from. I wondered how I had failed to notice this before after all the times I seen my breath but never bothered to watch it dance on air.


LittleWit said...

The snow this year has been uncharacteristically very light and fluffy. It does make shoveling and the plowing much easier. :) I really enjoy looking over my backyard at all the untouched snow. Then trying to identify the footprints that show up - animal, vegetable, mineral - ok really they are all animal. :) Now the ice, I can live without the ice.

heather said...

what a lovely little post, you described so much of what i love about snow, too.

when oregon had ARTIC BLAST 2008 in december, our house got 6 inches of snow, ice, then 8 more inches, and ice again. needless to say, clearing the cars *without* a snow shovel was quite the festival of fun.

and yes, i have a shovel now. :-D

Jbeeky said...

I miss snow and the moments right before it snows, like the world is holding it's breath for it.