First Real Snow

December 1, 2010

Late last night – or very early in the morning, if you prefer – it started to snow. It was a real snow, not the ice pellets of last week. It was white and fluffy and whirling and sparkling.

After midnight, I went into the garden and saw the dusting between the flagstones, like someone had come along with white sand and sprinkled it in the crevices. The flakes lit up the night, gentle, quiet and somehow warm.

In the morning, it continued and when I drove to an appointment, one of my favorites things of winter happened; the snow landed in perfect tiny clumps on my windshield and I was able to pick out individual snowflakes, see the six points, the shape, the symmetry – the beauty. I sat in the parking lot (thankfully early) and watched as they hit the glass in all their fleeting perfection. It is the quintessential example of all things wonderful, I think. There are millions of them coming down, all around Chicagoland, all gorgeous and unique and outstanding and elaborate and marvelous. And who really sees them? Some of us take a moment, some of us are enchanted, but most of those millions go unnoticed. So many things like this! Leaves on a tree, birds in a flock, ants in a hill, flowers in a garden – and people all around you. Beautiful, splendid and mostly unnoticed.

Home in the early morning, I make my rounds through the garden. Because of those drenching rains, the ground was soaked when this snow started and it’s now frozen with ice. The pea gravel path feels like those round concrete blocks embedded with pebbles underneath my feet. The mulch path is stiff and wooden.

Surprise – the cypress in the pond has lost all its needles. Has that ever happened before? This is, I am embarrassed to admit, something I’ve never noticed before. Now, because I am so much more in tune this year, I see bare branches. Is this okay? Thankfully, after a websearch, I see that this is normal behavior for a bald cypress which I learn is a deciduous conifer. Really. Never knew there was such a thing. This must have happened year after year and I never had my eyes open enough to see it.

It is still snowing, wet and swirling and white. I love it. The snow picks out the roof tiles like a chalk rubbing, white against brown.

Not such a surprise – the wind is blowing papers and trash into the garden. Because there are so many branches and twigs and stems in our yard and because we’re in the bowl of our cul-de-sac, we seem to be Newspaper Central during the windy, cold months.

I have formally given up all hope on the rest of the brussel sprouts and the fledgling peas. Too little grown from being planted too late for the peas, not enough sun at the right time for the brussel sprouts. Now, they are pocketed with snow, peas shriveled on the ground, sprout leaves dark green from being frozen.

Surprise again – the purple clematis in the front has undergone a dramatic change since this snow. It has really turned brown, really wilted, really drooped. Even the Seussian heads are drooping, hair hanging down in seeming sadness instead of up, wild and chaotic. The sweet autumn clematis has wilted like a diva too, but I notice it more on the purple plant.

I was wondering what differences I’d see in the winter months, exactly what there would be to document. We think of the garden as “dead” in the winter, blank and unchanging.

Now, I’m thinking we will have surprises.


One Response to “First Real Snow”

  1. Kristin said

    I saw that Trader Joes is selling brussel sprouts still on the stem! I thought of you!

    Also, I heard Eliza was INCREDIBLE in the musical!!!!

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