Feb 6, 2022

One day in the middle of last week, it snowed. Only the noon before I had herded the kids out onto the deck in front of the school for pick-up and noted, as I sat luxuriating on the steps, how fine and warm the sun shone, as though servicing a summer day. It was the beginning of February, so the theoretical rainy season was nearly over, but there hadn’t been any rain—only that scene-stealing sun—the hills still parched and yellow from the previous summer.

But the very next morning, as I walked out to the carport, big sloshy snowflakes drifted all around me like eiderdown from a burst pillow, settling on my hair and clothes. Though the asphalt of the parking lot was merely slick and wet, my car was tucked under a white wooly blanket, which I removed with a pancake turner.

At school the older kids toppled out of the yellow school bus, frantic with excitement. In a moment, they were scrunching the white stuff into soggy balls and pelting each other mercilessly. Car roofs and building roofs and horizontal surfaces of all sorts were daintily iced. Only the bare ground remained muddily unaesthetic.

That morning I prepared a soap flakes paste for my kids to make snow pictures. Greg cut out wonderful house and tree shapes and glued them on a blue background. Then, when my back was turned, he obliterated all his meticulous work with a soap flakes blizzard.

I finished up at 1:30 and walked out to my car. Ah! Now nature had finished dressing her landscape. The farmed hills around the school, the sky, everything resolved itself into a pearly gray softness. There was a blurring, a blending of things that made the latticework of bare branches stand out, as though redrawn for the season by a bolder hand. But more than that, the mood of the world had changed, like a melody gone minor. I spied a clutch of lavender wildflowers by a fence, quivering in the perilous frost. Each blossom wore a white peaked cap, like a diminutive tragicomic clown. For a brief moment, I relived the first snows of my childhood in a time and place that existed for me again. And I shivered with cold and pathos.