CXVII. Snow Comes Softly

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,, 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.

—Samantha Mozart