As the first tiny flakes of snow brush across my doorstep and the wind blows a brusque warning, howling with feriosity, I know that winter has finally arrived. Instinctively, my body yearns for comfort and resists any move toward the outdoors. I sit, face in hand at the window and watch with fascination as the snow swirls and dances in front of me. In no time, the ground becomes a carpet of the purist white you can imagine. This happens each year, and each year the first snow holds the same allure.
I remember, as a child, being thrilled at the arrival of the snow. I couldn’t wait to go outside to play. Now I watch my own children reacting the same way. There is something strangely satisfying about it, some fulfillment – I don’t know if it relates to the satisfaction that time continues on and another season has arrived, or the satisfaction that unlike everything else that changes in our lives, the seasons are a constant. Or perhaps it harkens back further to some primeval urge to hibernate. Whatever it is, it awakens Rockwellian visions in my head – a desire to sip hot chocolate by the fire and munch on cookies, to sit curled in a blanket with a good book, to make a hearty stew to fill everyone’s tummy after returning from an afternoon of tobogganing.
As the storm rages on outside, filling window wells and blurring any line between road and lawn, the comfort of my home seems to intensify. Although I go about my daily activities, I can’t help but be drawn to the window now and again to see how much snow has accumulated. Sometimes it will be blowing past in sheets creating a white wall that barely allows one to see neighbouring houses. Sometimes the wind will have relented and huge, softly falling flakes create a mezmerizing pattern in the air. You can almost see each individual crystal as it falls in front of you.
Some nights, as I climb the stairs to bed and I take one last look at the storm, I wonder what I will find in the morning. Will the storm have peetered out by midnight leaving only a few centemetres? Or will it continue with the same intensity almost baracading us with 30 centemetres? Some mornings the drifts are so high it is nearly impossible to open the front door. Most times, the storm only leaves a pleasant cushioning in its wake, especially if its the first snowfall.
I can’t help but be secretly excited by the thought that we might be snowbound like when I was a child. Back then the snow seemed far more plentiful. The city would literally shut down because people couldn’t get out of their driveways. We would listen on the battery operated radio to hear about school and other closures – because, back then, storms usually knocked out the power. Then, if we were snowbound, my sister and I would imagine that we were pioneers. We would light candles and huddle by the fireplace playing games and reading books. I suppose that was a different world but I still yearn for that feeling of safety and warmth and unlimited imagination.
Finally, when the storm passes and the sun shines down on the storm’s yield, everything seems to glow. Iced branches glisten in the trees, green fir boughs laden with powdery snow appear almost illuminated. Drifts and divets created shadows of blue and purples and if you look closely enough, the individual snow crystals sparkle like diamonds in a sea of white. It is almost dreamlike. The first snow has been and continues to be one of the most amazing creations of nature I have ever been lucky enough to experience.