Why, It’s Just What I Wanted!

December 4, 2010

Every year, I hope for snow on my birthday. I hope for fat, white flakes that will blanket the ground, cover everything, give me a winter wonderland, look like Christmas. Most years I am disappointed. Most years, I look out the window in the morning and sigh at the mud and the dirt, listen to the forecast in vain, go to bed at night without so much as a flake. But today, this December 4th, the garden gods smiled and showered me with such a gift – inches of snow, white and fluffy, packable and throwable and thick and majestic.

While I love all kinds of snow – like the blowing powdery kind that sparkles in sculpted shapes on my lawn and rooftops – this is a fun kind, the kind that sticks in ever-increasing height on anything standing still. It is powdered sugar snow, but souped up and on steroids.

After sliding home from Pilates, I put on winter boots (pink plaid) and matching plaid trapper hat (it comes down over my ears, has a visor and snaps under the chin – tres chic) and opened the back door.

Pristine! White and unblemished, clean and clear. The snow mounds on top of the garlic chives, weighing them down. They bob slowly, heavy and ponderous. Those shiny black seeds peep through here and there along the bottom fringe.

The snow looks like a big Russian fur hat, pointed and full on all the seed heads, on the stems, on the leaves. The snow is white against black and brown on the trees, on the steams, on the leaves. It lays like royal icing on everything, on the beds, on the grass, on the pond. I see Damn Rabbit tracks on the pond, along the paths, under the arbor and around the garage. There have been birds here recently, as the thistle seeds lays black and crisp on top of the snow.

And how wonderous is this! I see a small hole in the snow, a tunnel between sunshine and underground, right where the mice scurry into their hole. There are no similar holes to be found, so I believe this was indeed mouse-made. Maybe by tiny feet that dug through the snow, like Tony shoveled the drive this morning (“Clarence! You’re not supposed to shovel!” shouts Francine. “Let me do it! You’ll have a stroke!” She is very protective, Francine). Or it could have been formed by minute mouse breath, smelling sweetly of seeds, warm and moist, melting through the snow like a vent.

The snow is heavy, heavy and dense. It lays on the autumn clematis, pressing down the arbor. It mounds on coneflower heads, forming cones set at ridiculous angles. On the short grasses near the rainbarrel, it sparkles against the brown. It decorates the gaillardia, making her look confetti-sprinkled, partying again.

The pampas grass sway slowly, slowly, slowly. Breezes move them in slow motion, carrying their heavy load. The sway and the shape of the plumes bring thoughts of elephants and the way they move – heavy, with purpose, slowly. The swaying is rhythmic, steady and slow. Heavy, heavy, heavy. The blades rustle, but mutely, softly, no longer crisply – and slowly.

The snow picks out geometric shapes, on the spikey plant (that I cannot for the life of me remember its name right now) behind the groovy bench, on the evergreens, on the gladiola.

The veggie garden is buried – completely. There are no more brussel sprouts, no more pathetic peas. The snow sits on top of the chickenwire panels, now protecting nothing, but still doing it very well. I could probably take those down and bring them in now – but do I need to?

The evergreens all look like Christmas trees, sprayed with flocking from the 1960’s. The butterfly bush is covered in white lace, airy and light – a strange illusion with all this cumbersome weight around.

Hammock season is officially, truly, sadly over. Last week when we put up all the lights, I kept reminding myself to take it down, roll it up and get it into the attic. I must have thought about it a dozen times. And when the attic was shut and I was enjoying a fire, I looked out the window and saw that, yes, I had forgotten it. And now, I’m glad I did.

What a sculpture it has become! The snow sits on the string, inches high. It’s a grid of snow, a ray of snow, a bed – literally – of snow. But all this weight and wet is not good for my hammock. So I shake it off – heavy, heavy, heavy! and struggle with releasing the hooks from their anchors. I pull and pull and finagle and reposition. And it finally slips loose. I roll it up, still heavy, and carry it into the garage.

The snow is no longer pristine; it is decorated with my footprints. Under the hammock, it is plopped and printed and disturbed.  “What a happy birthday,” I think to myself.  And the garden gods say “You’re welcome.”

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