The snow is falling in big white clumps, soft and heavy and unrelenting. For most of February, the ground looked as if it had been stripped naked, and it laid with sparse white patches unable to cover the brown grass. But today the raw land, shocked like a sleeping child whose blanket has been ripped off, is finally being covered again.
I laugh in the sticky snow, which coats my hat, wets my hair and my jacket, and I wonder how an element that brings sleep to the land can inspire so much liveliness in myself. The flakes started falling yesterday evening and continue now, steady as a river in spring, and I find joy in the extra effort that walking demands; I slow down, I see snowflakes thick on branches and on my eyelashes. It has been a long time since I’ve experienced a day like today, surely the first one of this season. Monty, the twelve-year-old beagle I am taking care of this week, marches along the back porch, carving a small labyrinth with walls as tall as him. When I take him for a walk he spins in circles at the door, impatient until it is opened and then excited as he jumps over the snow bank, sniffing through the fast forming layers and marking his territory every few yards.
I heard from my friend Quinn, who lives in Washington, D.C., how the city shut down in the blizzards that struck, and how she found herself enveloped in a quiet that only snow can bring to an unprepared place. Montpelier, Vermont, on the other hand is lively today. Cars continue like any other day down the road, and I pass by people layered in sweaters and jackets, hat and scarves, smiling with their eyes, their mouths drawn up high like wool socks over long underwear, warm and protective. It is the snow we have been waiting for; we’re finally feeling redemption after the endless reports of storms hitting the Mid-Atlantic States and stopping before they could reach the mountains and hills of New England.
I am happy. As I sit here, now back inside with my coat drying out and me changed from slushy jeans into warm sweatpants, I can see the snow still falling straight and heavy to the ground. It will be a quiet night, the land once again insulated from the cold winter air. When I walk downtown to yoga class, I’ll smile at the soft compression beneath my boots, the safety that comes with snow banks between sidewalk and road, and the magic of new space that fresh snow always brings.