Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow 2.0: This week's blizzard

Snowcapped bush

Winter's bearing down again, but I don't mind that much. I know it will mean another round of shoveling in the morning, attempts to clear the sidewalks and back porch, wipe off the car and clear out the berm the plows leave us at the driveway entrance. If it's going to be this cold, I'd rather have this precipitation with it. Give us something pretty to look at, even if it's only a day or so before it starts to get brown and yellow and slushy and gross. We've had weekly snows since Christmas, the last two -- and last week's was little more than a dusting, but enough to shovel off the sidewalk -- covering up what had not yet melted.

I thought about setting up the camera for a time-lapse project with this one, but I chose not to because there was already quite a bit of snow still left on the ground. It wouldn't have the same effect as one that starts with a snowless, colorful streetscape that, over time, gets whited out.

This is one of those muting snows, arriving after dark and carrying enough punch and prompting enough warnings to scare most people off the roads. Not that 1 a.m. is any kind of high-traffic period around here, but for the last hour or so, I've been alone with my thoughts (and the Twitterverse and other online distractions) and the background sounds of our house. Other than the gurgling of the cats' water fountain, some recessed hum of one appliance or another and the occasional hiss of the radiators (one is stirring to life right now, in fact), this night is quiet. It's as if the world has been insulated, the town and the city bundled up and tied down.

Snow in the Suburbs
--Thomas Hardy

Every branch big with it,
Bent every twig with it;
Every fork like a white web-foot;
Every street and pavement mute:
Some flakes have lost their way, and grope back upward, when
Meeting those meandering down they turn and descend again.
The palings are glued together like a wall,
And there is no waft of wind with the fleecy fall.

A sparrow enters the tree,
Whereon immediately
A snow-lump thrice his own slight size
Descends on him and showers his head and eyes,
And overturns him,
And near inurns him,
And lights on a lower twig, when its brush
Starts off a volley of other lodging lumps with a rush.

The steps are a blanched slope,
Up which, with feeble hope,
A black cat comes, wide-eyed and thin;
And we take him in.

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