Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Why the first snow matters

The first snow. Dry and powdery, wet and heavy, sparkling, dirty. Nothing is the same now, not for another few months.

You're a New Englander, or a New Yorker. For you, the first snow may be banal, or exciting, depending on many variables: your penchant for romanticism (that first touch of white is an epiphany, a signal of transformation), your love of nature (seasonal transitions are times of sensual pleasure), or your occupation (postal carriers may heave a general sigh).

It may come early, in October, or puzzlingly late, in December. It may color the holidays with pixie dust or rent them asunder by making travel dangerous. It may coax you to buy winter sports equipment, or invest in a Pendleton wool coat, or make you yearn for sandy beaches. Snowfall at night can be magic, or terrifying. It can quicken your steps as you walk through falling flakes towards a fire-lit room or twinkling nightclub. It can slow the wheels of the car as you drive into flickering walls of white, wondering if you're seeing what you're seeing. It reddens your cheeks and whitens your hair.

The first snow makes beer colder, apple pie spicier, lovemaking tenderer, walking to work more memorable. The first snow lets us know we're in for a few weeks of Nature's impulsive and naughty tricks. The first snow makes us feel wrapped in warmth and ancient human fear. The first snow is inevitable. And when at last the time comes when we know we've seen the last of it until winter returns, we face the yellow sun with relief, and perhaps a bit of sad regret. Now, we say, now will live outdoors. But we might have done so before, wrapped in cloaks, clutching pots of embers, bellies full from autumn feasts.

1 comment :

Luna said...

Gosh, I love this. And it reminds me of my most recent backpacking trip -- never thought I could sleep outside with snow on the ground, but it's possible and not horrible. It's actually kinda nice.