The clarity and precision of fresh snow and blue sky.


An old post about snow that seems utterly apt after this weekend of snow and then, today, blindingly clear blue skies.

I have been thinking for days about writing a post about snow, and, lo and behold, it’s snowing again!  It’s so great with the universe comes through like that.  Of course, it’s been snowing almost non-stop since December 26th, so possibly it’s a coincidence.  When I look out my office window, whose four panes frame so many hours of my gazing out at the world, it looks like I live in a snow globe.

People always write about the “muffled” quality of snow, about its quiet, the silence it lends to the world.  For me this is absolutely true when it’s snowing.  There is an outside-of-real-life feeling when the sky is mottled with moving white snowflakes.   Maybe it’s a vestige of childhood snow days, maybe it’s the way movement in the outside world is slowed down to a crawl.  Something just floats over me, a gossamer cape of wonder, a reminder to breathe and watch.  The snow globe is a good place to live, insulated from the real world, the rough jolts of life somehow less jarring, muted.

And yet when it’s no longer snowing, but the world is covered with snow, I don’t find it muffled at all.  It’s the opposite: I find it sharp, its clarity in such high definition that sometimes it hurts.  Pam Houston’s words always come to mind: “When everything in your life is uncertain, there’s nothing quite like the clarity and precision of fresh snow and blue sky.”  There’s something wide-awake, hyper-saturated and, as she says, precise, about life with clear skies overhead and snow underfoot.  Emerging from my swaddled time in the snowglobe, everything seems purified, clarified, washed clear by the white everywhere.

Today I knelt on the floor by my office window and watched the flakes fall.  This afternoon they were huge, big clumps of snowflakes dropping out of the pale steel-gray sky.  Watching them, I remembered the passage in Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years about how “each snowflake bore the scars of its journey.”  I looked up into the sky, straining to see as far as I could.  I thought of another time that I instinctively knelt, when, just like today, “…I have felt a presence that disturbs me with the joy of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime of something far more deeply interfused.”

Another thing about snow: it is practically impossible (at least for a hack like me) to take pictures that capture the falling snow.  Hello, metaphor.  You just have to watch.  Pay attention.  Inscribe it on the vellum of memory.  What you see is what you get.

Originally written January 19, 2011, during another season of snow.

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