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Category: snow

how do the heavens know?

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i can’t begin to count the number of days it happens.

as the night lifts, as the dawn spreads across the landscape, as i begin to make out the shifting silhouettes of the grasses, of boughs, as a sparrow here, a cardinal there, begin to animate the tableau, i sense the day beginning to blanket me, soothe me, wrap my cold shoulders in what amounts to a shawl. a prayer shawl, more often that not.

so it was, when i awoke this week to a dawn draped in white. snow on the bricks and the sharp blades of grass, just starting to stick. snow on the bough beginning to clump. the world just beyond my window pane, a filigree of shadow and palest of light.

how did the heavens know? how did the Great Beyond know that i needed a morning’s blanket?

i needed stillness to step into.

the night had been long, had been tumbled. it was one of those nights when worry stitches each one of your dreams. you awake, yes, but you wonder if you’ve slept even a wink.

all you need on a morning like that is softness. is quiet. you need a world on its tiptoes, padded tiptoes. you need a morning that, like an old friend, understands without words. sidles up beside you, lays its head on your shoulder. breathes.

the morning needn’t rattle you. needn’t startle.

the morning comes softly. snow tumbles down. in flakes that shift from fat to fatter. you breathe. you inhale blessing, breath after breath, and then you let loose, your morning’s litany, petition tumbling on top of petition.

dear God, watch over him. dear God, protect her. dear God, forgive us; forgive us our endless temptations, our trespasses, too. dear God, forgive this globe that seems to be spinning too close to the edge of madness.

dear God, fill us with grace. give us strength. give us wisdom. and, please, for once, let words fall from our lips with half the sense we’d hoped they would hold.

dear God, blanket us. open our eyes, and our hearts. show us the way. let us startle someone in these hours ahead, with some blast of unheralded goodness. let us be the instrument of your peace. let us pass over temptation, not be the one to whisper the word that would cut to the quick. not turn the cold shoulder.

dear God, steady us. deepen us. let me be the vessel this day that carries you into the midst of the chaos. let me sow love. let me bring pardon. let me, in these hours ahead, scatter faith wherever there’s doubt; hope, in place of despair.

you’ve answered my prayer before i’ve opened my eyes for the day. you’ve laced the dawn in white upon white, you’ve hushed the world out my window. you’ve opened my door into prayer — still heart, deep vow, bold promise.

dear God, i thank you. now let us tiptoe softly into this day…

what prayer did you pray on the quietest morning this week?

nose pressed to the window pane

nose pressed to the window

dispatch from 02139 (in which “epic” — yes, epic, say the headline writers — hurri-blizzard blows in off the atlantic, and the winds begin to whistle their warning cry…)

it is a posture that pulls us back to long-ago days, days when you woke up to the cackle of a radio telling you school was closed, when you heard your mama down in the kitchen, not rustling the brown bags of school lunches in the making but rather cranking up the griddle for stay-home vittles.

it’s the posture of nose pressed to the window pane. it’s the posture of waiting. heart pumping. peering into the far-away-but-coming-closer.

it’s the posture of knowing adventure’s tucked behind the not-so-distant cloud. it’s awaiting mama nature. mama nature who, in the end and after all, rules over all her globe and sky, and every once in a while, reminds us of our humble place on earth.

so it is that i sit here, with windows east and south, keeping watch. the sky’s gone sooty gray. all shadow’s slipped away. the bird-seed tube that dangles just beyond the sill is rocking back and forth, making me a wee bit seasick if i stare too long.

this is the perfect perch for storm patrol, peering out beyond the rooftops, through the limbs of trees. i see smoke tendrils twirling up from chimney pots. i’ll soon gasp as tree trunks practice yoga bends.

winds at 85 miles per hour, the weatherman predicts. snows falling at the rate of four inches per hour. tumbling till they pile to three-feet-and-counting.

but, deary me, whooshing air at 85 m.p.h. up against flakes that weigh in at nothingness, it’s the equation for drifts the likes of which i’ve never seen. sounds like being a speck of milk inside a whirring blender. when someone clicks “puree.”

no wonder the sky-readers turned to their thesaurus to pull out a label for this blizzard. at last — after much office to and fro, i imagine — they decided to dub it “epic,” so epic it is, and epic we shall see.

it seems fitting, so fitting, that in this year of living sumptuously we — our little triangle of cambridge explorers — should endure spells of sumptuous weather. why, in just six months, there’s been one hurricane, one earthquake, and now this epic blizzard. good thing i packed my yellow rubber knee-high galoshes. i’ll be out trekking before this day is done.

for it’s one thing to inhale a storm from behind the glass, and wholly another what-the-heck to plant yourself amid the whirls and whoops.

why, you didn’t think life at veritas university would slow for any old avalanche of snow, did you? mais non! classes are marching on, clear through the morning. and at high noon, we’re being called to what promises to be a spine-tingling talk with a mexican journalist who risks her life — and aims to protect her compatriot periodistas — telling the truth about the drug wars that have torn apart her homeland.

for marcela turati, who dodges death threats and machine gun bullets on a daily basis, i can dodge a few flying snowflakes. even if they whirl at never-before-observed velocities.

other than that one arctic exposition, we’re hunkered down for the duration. we’ve all the essentials: popcorn, apples, soup. extra blankets, just in case. a fat cat who loves to curl beside our undulations. we’ve neighbors down below and just across the way, should we need to draw in the wagons — or trade one last drop of milk for one slab of vienna pastry (the doctor down below happens to be a fiendish baker, and the buttery vapors that slink up through the floorboards are enough to have me drooling at his door).

fact is, if you’re going to call yourself a bostonian for the year, you’d better weather a tried-and-true nor’easter’. i’d hate to amble home a pretender, head bowed in shame for having shirked a little tussle with the snow clouds that whirl in off the atlantic.

so far, with 14 minutes till the bewitching hour, there’s not a flake in sight. i’ll sit here for a few more hours, tomes piled to my left, eyes trained on the graying skies, waiting, waiting.

alert to what the heavens offer up today. and tuned in to how the human spirit pitches and dives along with all the whirling, swirling, dumping.

it’s front row to one celestial theatre. and right now, the players must be in the wings, clearing throats, slipping on their costumes. any moment, the curtain’s due to rise…

do you love snow days? odd weather days? what is it about the chance to draw in, simmer kettles of soup, slither into our snuggliest sweaters? three stories off the ground, i feel as if i’m in a tree fort, with the best seat in the house. if it gets outlandishly exciting here, i’ll be back to record the weather dramas. for now, be safe, be warm, and thanks for pulling up a chair.

in the spirit of my beloved helen vendler poetry class, perhaps i ought to dig for a poem to mark this snowy occasion……any submissions out there?

yellow snowy nightduring the night, under the street lamp out my office window….that little bump down there, that’s a car on its way to being buried…

snowy deckand come morning, here’s what befell the back deck. those chairs are hard-edged, with sharp corners. until the snow, they had no undulations. now they do….

the sound of snow falling

sound of snow falling

it is december’s gift. a world now hushed, now left to whispers. a world caked with white meringue. as if all the eggs, sans yolks, and all the cream of tartar were whisked into the froth that kept on coming.

whole clouds of it fell last night. started with a flake or two, barely noticed, in the gray of afternoon. by dinner time, the limbs, the walks, the feeders for the birds, had lost their definition, were taking on a girth that might have made them groan.

except the world was wordless.

the world, when i slipped on my snow-exploring shoes, zipped up my puffy coat, was so silenced by the spilling from the sky, i could, without straining, make out the sound of snow falling.

it’s a sound, quite truly, that makes your ears perk up. and your soul, too.

unlike the pit-a-pat of rain, it is wholly unexpected. wind we know is noisy. humidity, except for moaning of the ones who find it hard to bear, is not. but that comes as no surprise.

the sound of snow falling, then, is singularly soothing and startling. it is a titillation for the ears, a tickling of the nerves that makes them, well, stand at full attention.

a sound not heard so often, certainly not in months and months, it came like water to a thirsty traveler. and i could not get enough.

i cocked my head. stood still as still can be. i took it in in gulps.

while drinking in the pit-pit-pit of falling bits of icy snow, i opened wide my eyes. without moving a whole muscle–save for the ones that shift my eyeballs–i was a machine in complete and total operation.

except the machine–the hearing, seeing parts–served one function only: the talking to my soul.

there is a stillness in the first of every winter’s snow that feels to me like coming home. it is in that unrippled place, that place where quiet is complete and whole, that i, and maybe you, feel as if the hand of God is reaching down, is showing me the way through snowy woods.

sometimes, too, i think i hear the sound of God, putting gentle finger to soft lips, shushing.

shhhhhhh, i hear God say. be still. be filled with only what is sacred.

what else, i wonder, could slow a world that can’t move fast enough? who else can keep the cars off of the road? the cell phones from incessant baying?

there was not a soul outside last night, not when i was there at least, and i was there for quite a while.

this morning, then, is quiet squared.

not even snow is making sound. it is simply, i suppose, taking in its new perspective on the world. used to be way up high, now it’s down where mortals play. and it looks intent on staying put.

not a bird is anywhere in sight. i think they know what the weather seers know, only without all the supersonic radar. i think all my feathered friends are safely tucked in cozy places. at least i hope so. i would like to think the birds are in their checkered armchairs, nestled by the fire, sipping cocoa, like i intend to do, any minute here.

it is december’s gift, this early snow. it is just in time to serve its highest purpose. to shush a world in full staccato. to make us perk our ears, to see if, this blessed day, we might hear the song of snow falling.

my snow-flaked friends, your thoughts this morn…
as i type now, one boy up and fed and off to school, the world has rustled from its sheets, thrown off the blanket, the world is hardly quiet. dang. that didn’t last nearly long enough. i hear the sound–the dragon mouth–of snow blower somewhere down the street, and the scraping of the shovels against the walks. but i also hear the solitary cheep-cheep-cheep of the scarlet papa cardinal come to scout around.
did anyone else hear the snow falling last night? did you take to your boots, and like papa cardinal himself, do some scouting in your ‘hood?

oh, a word about the magic pictured up above…that’s a gingerbread house just around the corner from me. when we moved here i realized i could see it from my bedroom window. i thought, well, lucky me. if i can’t live there, i can at least spend my life gazing at its cheery face. and if i lived there, i couldn’t keep an eye on it all night or day. the streetlamp, the snowy branches, the ginger cottage strung with little lights….hope you too found it delightful. and caught, perhaps, the sound of which i write….the magic sound of flakes aflight…

snow, when it’s still white

i know. i know. it’s a little raucous out there. a bit like walking into a bowl of vichyssoise, whirring.

and once the world rustles from its dumbfounded look out the window, slams on the snow boots, trudges to the car, or the train, or the bus, it’ll all be so much blkkh. that gray-black mess of crusted-over car dirt, tire rub, city street, all tossed together, tumbled. left to leave us thinking this snow thing is a terrible nuisance, a blight upon the trek to wherever we have to be. end of story.

only this is not about that. this is about snow before the blkkh.

this is about snow when it’s still white. when it’s still.

this is about slipping into your mukluks, and giving snow the due it deserves: step out and just stand there. go nowhere, really. meander aimlessly. pretend its moon dust and tromp through it. crane your neck, watch it swirl toward you.

then do this: drink it in. listen to the snow sound. then listen more closely still, listen with your soul.

the snow, i am convinced, is God’s way of putting finger to lips, pursing, whispering, “shhhhhh.”

snow, if you listen, speaks loudly. but only in a way that the soul is equipped to hear. the snow is telling us to slow. to behold. behold wonder. behold mystery.

behold the miracle of mere air and water and the cold of a cloud, coming together, falling down. tumbling. a 15-minute ride from the sky to the tip of our tongue, if we, like a child, try to catch it. scientists clocked that. i’m not making it up. some day soon we will consider the universe of each little snowflake. apparently, it’s a sport. watching snowflakes. i’ve got a book, right here on my desk, a field guide to snowflakes, and it says so, likens it to bird watching, only colder.

but today is about the blanket of white, the blanket of quiet. the blanket shaken before us, every intricacy of every limb and twig and pine needle shrouded in, swaddled in, white.

to go out in it, to crouch under the bough of a tree, to watch it come down, down onto your eyelash, is to be filled, once again, with the mystery of the heavens coming down to our midst. intermingling, the divine and the utterly earthly.

maybe that’s why young children thrust themselves into it, onto it, prostrate, making snow angels. maybe they understand in a way we forget when we’ve had too many snows under our boots. maybe they sense the godliness in each six-sided flake. if you could dive into the celestial, wouldn’t you want to rub your arms and your legs, your whole being, through the thick of it? once again, look to the children.

albert einstein, a guy smart like the children, wrote this in 1930, in a paper titled, “what i believe:”

“the most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. it is the source of all true art and science. he to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”

open your eyes, my friends. open your eyes. the snow, falling all around us, is begging us to drink in, to taste, to behold the mysterious. to realize, in one single snowflake, we hold onto the infinite. in a whole world of snowflakes, the infinite holds onto us.

if we open our eyes…

tell a snow story. tell a tale of beholding the wonder of the world of snow when it’s still white. or, if you must, spit it out. tell us how the blkkh got in your way, made you mad. made you sputter. then, once you spew here at the table, you might feel all better. might then be able to slip on your muks, step out the door, sink into the wonder…..