February 21, 2023

It’s snowing big flakes…


The first fall of snow is not only an event, it’s a magical event.  You go to bed in one world and wake up in another quite different.

-J.B. Priestly


Waldo and I are out walking in a snowstorm.  The temperature is hovering somewhere around freezing and there is next to no wind.  I can see my breath hover around my face as I walk along, as if it were only begrudgingly leaving the warmth of my body.  It hangs there in a ragged fog, idly swirling and wispy, then slowly rises and dissipates.  Waldo’s breath is visible too.  It puffs out of his long snout in short blasts like a locomotive chugging steam and stirs me to accompany his panting with an occasional, “Woo-woo!”  The snow is coming down in amorphous, delicate, diaphanous balls of whiteness, just a little smaller than grapes.  They slowly float down until they get velcroed onto my coat, tree limbs, the tarmac and Waldo’s back.  There, they come together and grow into a soft, cottony blanket.  I ignore them, Waldo shakes them off, and the ground gathers them in with open arms, as if it were waiting since December for a good covering of snow.  What was an accumulation of one inch when we started, soon becomes two and it’s still snowing.

The path is, as we start, undisturbed and Waldo and I are the first to leave evidence that there are animals out and about.  Soon, though, we pass another traveler and our footprints are no longer the only scars left on an otherwise smooth, fluffy plane of whiteness.  A little further on and we come across more footprints, now a bit blurry from the continuing snowfall – clear witness to yet more people out walking in the storm.  I do enjoy knowing that other people are out here in nature, but it’s somehow a little unsettling to find out we’re not alone.  I feel robbed of the pristine experience of communing, just Waldo and me, with Gaia.  There’s something special about being surrounded by nothing but wilderness, as if escape from the hurley-burley of mankind is possible and I can immerse myself in something more basic.  Like I have broken away from the artificial world created by man and can imbibe in something more fundamental, solid and real.  But just to be out here in the woods, walking with Waldo, in the midst of a heavy snowfall, is plenty good enough and I’m willing to share.

The snow is now three inches deep – deep enough for Waldo to make snow-doggies, which he does with relish.  He leans forward, butt and tail in the air, chest, neck and chin on the ground with forelegs stretched backwards and nose thrust into the icy whiteness in front of him, followed by a roll onto his back and a writhing back and forth as if he has an itch that only that can satisfy.  He then gets up, shakes himself off, finds another undisturbed patch of snow, and repeats.  It looks like this could go on for a while, but we have miles to tread, so I encourage him to walk on down the trail and we’re off once again.

The snow is piling up in the trees as well as on the ground.  It’s sticky enough that it adheres to the tops of branches like someone has covered them in whipped cream.  The white pines are all flocked with snow and their long branches sag noticeably from the weight.  The dead oak covered in English ivy looks like a real tall Gossypium cotton plant, with balls of white heaped up on top of the green leaves of the vine.  Winter lacks the riot of color found in the other seasons, but, just like an Ansel Adams black and white photo, it offers up a beauty all its own.

Then the snow changes to tiny little flakes and the accumulation essentially stops.  It seems that three inches is all we’re going to get.  I’m a bit sorry to see it go, but not sad about it.  Three inches is enough to make walking a little bit of a chore because my feet have to shove it out of the way for each step.  More than four inches is definitely work.  When I’m out walking for two and a half hours, for six miles or so, it can get very tiring very fast.  As it is, I’ll just be a bit more certain that Waldo and I have been on a snowy trek.  Three inches seems paltry, compared to many storms we’ve had in past years, but at least we did get to enjoy walking in some snow this winter.

And then, we’re back at home.   I shed my wintery layers, Waldo shakes off the last remnants of snow and ice and we settle in to warm up and feed.  Waldo retires to his balcony throne and I to my blessed recliner.

Winter seems somehow now complete.


…and it keeps coming down!

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