Letter from Birdland: When the snow comes, so does the fun
Wednesday in Birdland: A glance out the window reveals the brown trees of winter dipped in russet. The low rays of the morning sun have lit them all on one side, like they are the start of the show. The west side is all in shade, and the contrast makes a lovely picture, the shadow tangled in the trees.
The winter palette is muted, but I still find it fascinating. The fields lie like a rumpled blanket of browns, chocolates, greys, mixed with tawny stubble and chunks of mud. The cold has finally pulled all the green out of the grass, like a real winter. The thick brown thatch softens the yard more than usual.
Thursday: This corner of the year feels heavy, like the grey will never end. Oh, I know, we had a mild winter and I was complaining earlier that it wasn't winter enough.
But this bitter cold, especially the naked bitter cold with no snow, feels like a great block of stone teetering. Or an iceberg melting, first slowly, then in a rush that nothing can stop. This morning I look out at the same trees I saw yesterday.
Today they are dull brown and grey against a sky, white with only a tinge of blue. Funny how such a difference in hue can lead to such a different mood.
Friday — All winter in a day: This afternoon, I was visiting with a dear friend, drinking tea at her kitchen table. One minute we were looking out across a grey winter-scape, and then her lovely daughter got off the bus and walked toward the house. The wind made her squint and wince.
She came in, and we were drawn away from the window, chatting with her. Yes, school was great, but that kid was cussing on the bus again, even though the little kids could hear. Then the big kid got off the bus, and the little kids took up his cussing. She seemed weary as she told us this, as if this were an ongoing problem. Her gaze wandered toward the window and she broke off suddenly.
"Is it snowing?" she asked.
We all looked and could see something coming down. She ran across the living room and slid open the glass door to the back porch. We turned back to our kitchen table conversation, and a moment later she was in again, melting snowflakes glistening in her hair. It was, indeed, snow.
"It's sticking!" she said.
The weariness had melted. Now comes a party atmosphere. Now we could hear the musical tinkling against the window. In just moments the back porch had a light coating of snow, and we all went out.
The two little dogs raced around, making shaggy tracks. The snow was really tiny balls of ice, not flakes. We scooped some off the picnic table and made hard little ice balls, throwing them into the yard. Moments later, the sky shifted, and now big, fluffy flakes were falling. My friend remarked that this fluffy stuff on top of ice would make dangerous driving.
We knew the snow was coming. The news had warned of it. Friends in the West were posting about shoveling their walks three times in one day. But somehow, it took me by surprise.
We went back in and poured another cup of tea. We talked a little more, watching the snow pile up. In just minutes a soft blanket had covered the porch, the yard.
I called Ellis to find out where he was, but my youngest wasn't answering his phone. About the time I realized that I'd better go to town and pick up Ellis earlier rather than later, my friend's phone started ringing. First her husband called to say that there was a white-out in Decatur. Then her other daughter to say that play practice has been canceled.
We abandoned our tea and went out into the snow to retrieve our children.
Yes, driving was difficult. Not only was it slippery, but the roads now had several inches piled up. I drove to the usual places looking for my boy — and finally tracked him down at the Thursday soccer practice in the grade school gym. They had just finished when I arrived; a bunch of sweaty boys in shorts stood gaping at the snow. It had been cold but clear when they went in. Now their cars were covered with a heavy blanket. Ellis got his backpack out of his friend's trunk, and we drove off as the other boys brushed snow off their windshields, shivering in their shorts.
Light in beauty; progress in peace; blessed be.
Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. You can read more of her writings at http://www.letterfrombirdland.blogspot.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.