Saturday, January 2, 2010

Simple Gifts

In case anyone's counting, we've gotten about four inches of snow since last evening. I shoveled two at midnight and now there's two more. What possessed me to shovel snow at midnight? Well, I took the dog out for his last "business trip" before bed and seeing how much had accumulated, I figured a head start wouldn't hurt. There was no telling how much additional there would be by sun up.

Keeping track of this particular snowfall is important because I have a friend who has been kidding me about the extent of my foul weather preparations. I've been more diligent than usual because we're supposed to get up to sixteen inches by tomorrow night with a potential for power outages. Now, it's true that reliable weather forecasting lately has taken on the quality of a Las Vegas casino game, so I could just as easily end up "broke." If not, then I want to be able to kid him back.

That said, last night held an unanticipated surprise. It was peaceful, as you might imagine, so much so that I actually "heard" the sounds I make for the first time. The shovel sliding under the snow coupled with the crunch of my heavy hiking boots while moving forward, then the more rapid thump-crunch walking back to my starting place. Sometimes a metal-against-blacktop scrape if I went too deep and the shush of powder when I shoved the new snow into a the rapidly forming bank. John Denver once said, "If we would only listen," and last night was one of those times I'm glad I did.

If this was Colorado, I'd be eager to drive up into the mountains this morning. There's something wonderful about being in the high country and watching the snow tumble down against the shadowy backdrop of the spruce forests. Clouds drift low until the boundary between them and the peaks looks like a huge, diffuse grey-white snow-making machine, kicking out flakes faster than the wind can catch them.

At the moment, the cat is exploring the magic of sack filled with Christmas tissue, his head barely peeking out of the opening like a camper snug in a sleeping bag. Composer Aaron Copeland's Appalachian Spring draws upon the Shaker hymn, Simple Gifts, and both last night and this morning are like that. No fanfare, no grandeur, just the quiet, continual, gentle falling of new snow, the sounds of life going on, and the playful delight my cat has discovered in an ordinary brown paper bag.

(Image of a Steamboat Springs, Colorado blizzard by gregor_y via Flickr)
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