Sunday, December 8, 2013 —Yesterday came cold and blustery while we presented our wares at our town holiday outdoor market. Flurries of visitors arrived and it was good to be out among the people and to greet them. Choruses of children sang and Santa Claus came to town. The Newshound from the Delaware State News came and, holding up one of my books, To What Green Altar, posed beside me while his photographer took our picture. Like most hounds, the Newshound newspaper mascot doesn’t talk, but the photographer alerted me to look online at Delaware Newszap, http://delaware.newszap.com/delawarestatenews/, and the photo noting this author should be posted by Wednesday.
Today it is snowing. The purity of the white is centering. Snow falling is quiet, peaceful. I have decorated my Christmas tree in small clear lights this year with only a few balls in silver hues. It is a quiet tree, a tree decorated not for anyone else, but for me, a tree to give off a soft, warm light.
It is Sunday. The bell in the little Episcopal church across the street rang this morning, as it does every Sunday. It is a real bell, in the steeple, that somebody rings. This little historic church recalls all the chapels in all the English villages, meadows and dales that I see in all the British dramas I watch. They don’t ring the bell long in this Episcopal church – eight times for the eight o’clock service and ten for the ten o’clock service.
One Sunday morning, I was walking in front of the Methodist church down the street when suddenly the bell tolled. I know convention says you’re not supposed to be startled when you’re in front of a church: I rose several feet off the sidewalk and I suspect not lifted on angel wings. In fact, I exclaimed, “Holy [expletive].” This is a real bell, too, and apparently a good sized one; it is loud, and it goes on ringing for eons. It’s a big church and the congregation continues arriving for ages.
Snowflakes alight briefly in flurries or waltz in endless patterns bending, swirling, reaching and touching everything all the dull gray day and into the deep blue night, well beyond three o’clock in the morning.
Prose arabesques ornament the characteristics and romance of snowflakes. Each snowflake is uniquely shaped. The flakes fall softly, individually, in pairs and in gatherings. Yet they all come from the same source and have the same composition. Snowflakes have a mission: they fall out of the clouds and they land on black slick streets, red-brick sidewalks, brown winter grass, mounds of dried leaves blown into corners of flower beds and on the bare dogwood branches outside my window. Sometimes the snowflakes melt on contact, sometimes they pile up. And then everything turns white. Watching them fall, we become quiet, meditative, nostalgic, always a little awestruck. We watch snow fall with anticipation: snow disperses our routines, makes us turn to something new. Sometimes each snowflake makes a light ticking sound as it touches down. The birds get quiet when it snows. I watch the squirrels and the birds and I can predict the weather. The squirrels bustle gathering nuts in advance of the coming cold. Birds flock and chatter and then get quiet. Birds have different songs for different types of weather and different times of day. They have their cheery morning song, their spring song for temperatures mounting on soft southern breezes; they have their evensong.
Mothers brought their young children outside this morning to witness the first snowfall of the season. I observed one child hold out her pink mittened hand to watch the snow accumulate in her palm.
I like driving in a car when it is snowing. I love being in the magic of the snow flying at me, the cypress and cedars and oaks lining the road, their branches laden with snow, the padding of the car tires on the snow, the few other cars on the road all traveling slowly as in a dream, and the tire tracks of an unseen car gone before me.
Snow fulfills its own purpose. Snow comes softly; it piles on tree limbs, bushes, holly berries and cars. Snow comes softly, like a gentle soul, filling in the footprints on our paths. It stays for a while, and then it is gone.
It’s snowing again today and I still can’t find the snow shovel. I think my dog, Dickens, buried it. In fact I’m pretty sure that’s what happened.
Sorry, Samantha, for losing the blog keys again and locking you out. Good thing R and Gwynn found them in the holly bush next to the door.
It’s stopped snowing and the sun’s out now, Moriarty, so I think you can go outside and look around for the shovel before we get that big snowstorm. Somehow I don’t think Dickens buried it.
Did you look in the blog basement? It might be down there.
It’s spooky down there with the boys in the basement.
Lovely post, Samantha. I’m afraid I miss the snow at this time of year. It’s nice to have warm, spring-like weather all of the time–except for around Christmas. It just doesn’t feel like the holidays yet.
Hugs from Ecuador,
I missed the snow, too, Kathy, when I lived in Southern California; I missed the change of season — the autumn leaves. That’s the one thing I like about living here — the turn of the seasons, especially fall.
I am so glad you stopped by. I definitely intend to visit your blog; I’m just behind, basically overwhelmed by mundane stuff. So, thanks for keeping in touch. It means a lot to me.
Hugs back to Ecuador, and I’ll be by to visit soon.
A beautiful post Samantha thank you! They are all so beautiful when looked at under the microscope. Each snowflake is different to the next one with their definite and delicate structure as you so poetically said. Beautiful too as they collectively blanket the land in its whiteness.
I love all that you have written about snow, it softness and centering, its purity and purpose ..
I love the idea of the serenity of snow as per Gwynn –
Thank you, Susan. It’s nice — and essential, I think, to give pause and quietly observe nature all around us. Nature provides for me my spiritual foundation. I suppose this is partly due to my spending so much time outdoors as a kid, and even now when I can.
It’s a joy to know someone in the southern hemisphere for whom I can give a momentary shift in seasons. 🙂
The soft melodious sounds of your wordsmithing here evoked a calm and dignified sense that enabled me to back the overloaded van, in the piling up snow off the Williamsburg Bridge in a slow and ordery fashion.
Once I exited th Hollan Tunnel I did not see another snow covered road until a few miles from Hopewell. It was then that I took notice of the cypress, cedars and oaks snow laden lining the road and the padding of the van tires on two inches of freshly fallen snow where gentle souls had filled in the tracks before me yet caring me home.
Yes, a calm and dignified post – thank you.
Soft and melodious sounds — that is nice, R. I’m glad to know I achieved that, that the rest of your travels were safe, the roads clear, and that you were inspired then to observe the beauty and the sounds along your journey of the freshly fallen snow.
I enjoyed your posting. Snow is so serene. Your thoughts remind me of my childhood days when I loved sledding in the snow. Now, when it snows I love looking out through the snow covered branches at the serene bay as I sit holding my cup of hot tea wrapped in warm toasty sweaters.
Now, I’m hoping that what you have written is not contagious and the weather Gods will overlook it as I have to be out bright and early tomorrow A.M. Stay warm!
I’m with you, Gwynn, on enjoying the snow by looking out the window at it. It does remind me of my childhood — sledding, shoveling, my brother’s runny nose…. Our mother made sure we spent plenty of time out in the snow. We were not allowed to run in and out; it was out all the time or in some of the time. I remember the exhilarating feeling when we finally did come in and take off our snowsuits and boots, when our toes and fingers and face tingled in the toasty warmth.
Well … As I read this stranded on the Williamsburg Bridge the snow is piling up.
I love how you mapped out this essay and all the alliterations.
I don’t know how much mapping I did, R, on this post. It began as a journal entry in the morning and then made its way to this blog.
Yet, I am comforted to know it helped you find your way through the traffic in the snow.