Friday, January 15, 2016

Snow Daze

I have stopped hundreds of times, hundreds of places "To watch his woods fill up with snow."

I remember a snowfall in Steubanville, when I was barely even four I'd guess, with wind whipping and a long hill in front of the house and children riding sleds and... cold.  That alive cold that makes you know you exist.

I've watched snow fall from the double doors of an old barn, smoking illicit cigarettes of two kinds.  The barn was down a wooded lane and I looked on as the gravel road filled and the trees bowed down and a perfect white tunnel closed up in front of me.

It snowed at Murphin Ridge on our honeymoon, blanketing everything, tucking in our happiness.  I walked down a fence-line, along a trail to a high ridge and marveled at my joy.

A warm, cozy sleeping bag, a frigid tent, a muffled quiet, a flap unzips and a thin but thorough blanket of snow covers my meadow in the high forest of Arizona.  I watch it just drop, heavy, big fractaled flakes over the woods, high pines and aspen, over the silent meadow.  I build a fire against it and later the wind comes up and it all blows hard into the flames.

The front booth of Kennedy's on the Lower East Side had a window and we watched Second Avenue fill.  We watched the frenzy of cabs dwindle, then nothing for a while but Kahlua and coffee and conversation.  And then, soft bells and clump, clump, clump.  A parade of carriages moving from the mews to Central Park for romantic rides and Rockwell worthy memories.

A reluctant parting in Athens, a pretty dancer, a white hat and matching scarf, dark hair, snow falling across the East Green, blanketing the dormers of the brick hall I called home at the time.  A snow flake on an eyelash, on a high cheekbone, both melt and run like a teardrop down her flushed face.  I sat in that dorm window and watched and hoped and wondered... she never came back that night.

I once watched a blizzard for hours and hours from the dining room window of my childhood home.  Little, dust flakes blew under the door to the porch.  The windblown snow drifted as the inches piled up.  I'd never seen drifts made, the way they change and curve, whirling like icy eddies in the Spring creek. The drifts cut over the side of the hill, over the drive that we'd later dig out.

It snowed the morning my father died.  I am glad for that.

The long walk from downtown to my apartment went by a cemetery.  One night a wet, heavy deluge of snow was soaking my coat shoulders and my hat and gloves.  I stood under the arch of a mausoleum that looked down the sloping hill of headstones, hoping to wait the worst of it out.  Each stone and cross and granite cherub was adorned with little conical piles of snow.  It looked silly, absurd.

I've watched the snow fall sitting at the dining room table of my children's childhood home writing an ode to snowfall and wondering how many they will see and if the lessons will be the same.

Thanks for looking out and back with me today - back to the memories and out into the yard - both seem to reach a long ways.

There's more, there is always more.  The day it blew and snowed so hard the boys were already at school.  I watched from the table and they watched from their desks.  I asked them if they'd seen the squall I took a picture of.  They said they had.  They said everyone was "flipping out" and screaming for a snow day.

Zack said it was cool.

Nick said it was pretty.

From Marci's "... things you don't expect to hear from the backseat ..."

Boy 1: "Ouch!"

Boy 2: "Karma! Boom-shaka-laka!"

Best catchphrase ever...

Peace to you.


  1. Ah this takes me back to savoured similar moments. That's great writing, I say.

  2. Bill, this is beautiful. Very well done and relatable. It stirs the nostalgia in me.