It wasn’t really a white Christmas, despite three days of meteorological predictions and hysteria that we would awaken on December 25th to the first Christmas snow in 63 years. When I rushed to my window at 7 am on Christmas morning, all that greeted me was the same brown Bermuda grass and green winter weeds that pass for a lawn in my back yard. But the snow started to fall at 7 pm; by 11 pm it covered the tops of the dead grass and chickweed and henbit. And by Sunday morning, the world was encased in winter: house eaves were bedecked with beards of icicles, the trees were crystal, and each bud and berry on the dogwood tree sported its own jaunty hat of snow.
Three days later, there is still snow on the ground in all the shady places, and in some of the sunny ones as well. The squirrels’ nests in the tops of the oak trees still have white blankets, as do many of the holly shrubs. A whole street of North-facing houses has front yards still snow-bound, save one. It’s the same house where in autumn there is never a leaf to be found disturbing the perfect carpet of grass. As I walked past this morning, I could easily imagine the homeowner, in the height of the storm, diligently blowing and melting the snow from his yard with his lately all-too-quiet leaf blower.
I’ve just finished reading (for the second time in two weeks) the most wonderful book: Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature by Kathleen Dean Moore (Boston: Trumpeter Books, 2010.) Anyone who has walked the path of sorrow will find a companion in these pages. One of her essays speaks the words “New snow revealed what had been hidden…Snow hid what had been revealed.”
This snow hid the ordinariness of a gray, cloud-blanketed Sunday and revealed a world sparkling in the low winter light. Undisturbed snow covered the yard and driveway, save for a single line of deer tracks. Every link of the chain-link fence was outlined in ice and gleamed like a net of spun jewels. Trees were made of snow, each branch and twig appeared to be only the slate gray shadows of the snow resting upon them. Banks of snow under decorated bushes and trees reflected the glow of colored Christmas lights.
Snow fell all morning, and most of the afternoon, extending the Christmas hush by one more day and evening. One more day where we were given a world calm and bright. One more day when cars and malls and merchandise were out of reach, leaving us with the gift of just this silent snowy day, in all its fullness and beauty, and one more silent, holy night.