Saturday, December 08, 2007

Second Snow

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Before I had a chance to write rapturously about the joys of the first snow, it had snowed again. This time I was not excited to see the fresh layer of about 2 inches of white stuff. My reaction puzzled me. How could something that was so wonderful the day before have so quickly lost its allure?

Perhaps the intensity of the first snow cannot be sustained. Like first loves, or the first phase of a deeper love, the sheen of the sunlight off the new fallen snow quickly fades or cloys. When the snow fell in soft luxurious flakes twirling like slow motion dervishes on a spiritual reunion with the ground, I watched starry eyed. I took the dog out and romped in the snow and threw snowballs and planned to see if I could still make a snow angel. Everything was put on hold for that first snow in a self imposed retreat from the world, a return to child like exuberance.

But even after that first romp, I began to realize that the steps and the walks needed to be shoveled and I was the designated adult. I saw the birds pecking hungrily at the snow clad branches and worried that I needed to put out food for them.

When the second snow fell, I thought first of the shoveling to be done again, the birds to be fed, and the now icy roads that I would have to navigate.

Worse still, came the reminder that I was no longer familiar with the business of snow. For three years I have seen only occasional flakes--nothing that built up on the ground. Despite living so far north that winter days are shortened to a few hours of daylight and the wind of the sea can chill your bones in a heartbeat, the actual temperature rarely dips below freezing.

I am struggling to find the new-old rhythms of this place that was so long home. The first and second fall of snow have melted into the early December detente--the temperature fluctuates around freezing and so the sky may offer snow or rain. Patches of still-green grass lie exposed next to craters of footsteps in the snow or ruts left by tires. The patches of compacted snow may linger through this thaw and lend their shape to the next layering or they may be gone in the morning washed away by the rain that might have been snow. Early December in Indiana. I recall that rhythm.

I remember also the names of the birds at the feeder: snow birds, the slate colored juncos who show up about the time of the first snow, a nuthatch, a few sparrows, a cedar waxwing, and now that I have put sunflower seeds in the feeder and a suet holder on top, I have seen a red-headed woodpecker. His size makes the juncos look even smaller than they are and he squawks noisily to the feeder sending the smaller birds scattering. They fall gracefully to the ground and contentedly pick the seeds strewn untidily on the ground where I needed another pair of hands to fill the feeder efficiently, but I was alone.

If the detente holds, the seeds will lie there for an all night deli for the birds. Either rain or snow may bury them and then they may become an unexpected crop in early spring. The sky over the cornfields is graying. In Scotland, this would be called, I think, a filled in sky. Here, it looks like a snow sky.


At 4:45 PM, Blogger KreativeMix said...

pretty neat!! i love snow too, but too much of one thing gets to me:-)

At 9:25 PM, Blogger landgirl said...

hello, I see from your profile that you knit. What kinds of things? I am working on my first proper sweater for my daughter. It is a lovely alpaca-silk yarn that has a hint of lustre from the silk and nice soft warmth from the alpaca. I have done many things before this, but all of them easier in some way. Some times I like following a pattern--kind of zen discipline; sometimes I like making it up as I go along.
How did you make the beads in your photo? Have you done any felting?

At 1:32 AM, Anonymous ampiggy said...

I understand now why Scorrie says your blogs make him see old things in a new way. The rhythm you write about, I just took for granted. Maybe I saw other things that you didn't, of course. At any rate, you are a poet.

At 4:06 PM, Blogger landgirl said...

Oh, miss piggy, the beauty of conversations with you is that you offer me the things I didn't see. I want a long talk soon. Thank you for the accolade.

At 6:20 PM, Blogger Mark Newton said...

I came to the self-realization some years ago that we as humans tend to "value least, that which we have the most". I saw it in schools first: a PhD means little in academia, yet is placed on a high pedestal in industry. Hospitals have poorer health care than defense contractors, and so forth. Knowing this, I understand why the second snow is received with such little joy: it represents something now old--something that reminds the senses that winter has come and will not be soon finished. The joy of discovery is gone, and the drugery of keeping water tanks thawed and pathways cleared, and barn door trackways open now become part of everyday routines. Or, as the song says, "the thrill is gone".


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