red on white
i couldn’t wait.
so, despite my achy tired bones, i was up before the sun, nose pressed against the glass, keeping watch.
we were graced last night. blanketed in the holy lull that is the first snowfall. before the neighbors cranked the snow machines. before the whir that shattered all the silence, the cloak of somnolent seasonal reprieve.
there was not a bird in sight. not the flutter of a wing. not a branch shaking from the wisp of weight that is a bird landing, taking shelter under piney bough.
if i wanted action at the feeders, and i dearly deeply did, there was work to be done. so off slipped the slippers, on went the boots. up zipped the puffy snowcoat. on slid the thick-wooled mittens.
i shoveled my sorry path, apologizing to the snow all along the way, hating to disrupt the plane of white.
but if a girl is going to make it to the feeder with her coffee can of seed, a girl needs a place to clomp her boots. and after many years of analyzing such maneuvers i’ve decided i prefer the neat line of a shoveled path (not really) to the scattershot and hyphenated punctuation of snowboot holes all along the way.
i’ve learned that i’m the only fool in my house who likes unmarred snow, and sooner or later the rest of the house will awake, will need to get to school, to work, and if the line of shoveled path isn’t there, they’ll just go and make a whirly mess of it. so i might as well cut my losses and cut the path.
i can always pretend it’s an alpine trail.
when at last i got out to where the feeders dangle, i chuckled in the early morning light. for the feeder nearly groaned under the weight of a good eight inches of crusted-over snow. there was barely a quarter-inch left for seed, so i dumped it right atop the snow mound, and figured this morning the birds would get some ice chunks with their sunflower.
and sure enough, by the time i’d turned and tromped back to the door, there was fluttering. there was sparrow, followed by nuthatch, followed by the whole crowd of cardinals.
once again, my world was white shot through with trumpet blasts of red.
there is, perhaps, no finer color contrast on the planet. or if there is, i’ve not yet felt it surge my heart in the way that scarlet-coated cardinal does on the first snow of the winter.
i wait all year for this, the hush of snowfall. the flakes free-falling past the porch light, their hard-angled intricacies and puffy contours tumbling, tumbling, lulling all the world and all its weary citizens into that fugue state that comes with heavy snow, first snow. when at last the whole wide winter world takes in a breath, and holds it. fills its empty lungs. takes in the special brand of oxygen that comes inside fat flakes.
and then we wait for the animation to follow. the birds, first. much later, the squirrels. and long after that, the cat who gets brave enough at last to put paws to white stuff. to hop and dart and make like a real-live scaredy cat, so confused, bewildered, by the snow.
it’s the sort of rare and blessed day that makes me wrap up inside a blanket. makes me crank the stove and simmer something aromatic all day long (cinnamon and clove this morning, leek and garlic later in the day). makes me want to venture no farther than where my rubber boots can take me. makes me contemplate the canister of flour and the cubes of yeast. deep in the recesses of my brain, snow days and bread baking are synonymous.
i could use a snow day after this long week (with or without the bread).
how perfect that the skies conspired to bring me the very answer to my prayers.
red on white. and white as far as i can see.
it’s just the thing to set things right.
i should have let the picture do all the talking today. wouldn’t that be rash? wouldn’t it be wise…..
are you celebrating all the snow? what do snow days trigger inside of you?