Monday, November 20, 2006

Breath In

It’s starting to smell like snow, and whenever it starts to smell like snow, wintery thoughts preoccupy my mind. I seem to have some special affiliation with cold, snowy weather—perhaps a genetic imprint, as I was literally made in New England during the darkest, coldest season of the year. So when that first chisel-sharp whiff of dry icy air wafts in each autumn; when the turf underfoot sends the first crunching sense; when the barometer drops ever so, and the ether seems poised to crystallize; when a deep breath of outdoors fills the lungs with that familiar carbonated tingle—well, then my head fills with a strange admixture of memories and anticipation, of fact and fiction, all of it white, and all of it cold.

The mélange includes scenes of childhood snow-forts during the blizzard of ’78; of gathering icicles with Favorite And Only Brother; of five-cousin toboggan rides down country hills; of overheated college lecture rooms and the distraction of huge snowflakes falling just out of reach beyond the windowpanes; of my grandparents’ horses exhaling icy plumes in barely-daylight, of my grandfather knocking dirty snow off logs bound for the fireplace, and the bare hut above Aspen where I learned the news that grandma had passed away; of a backyard igloo in Vermont, where I slept a night; of a snowstorm in Swaziland and the men who had never seen snow-angels; of hypnotic headlamped night-skis in medical school, all the woes of illness swish-swished away under the kick and glide; of aqua-iced moments of clarity above treeline in the Whites, which never seem preservable; of a riotous glissade down North Slide with Lead Dog; of a dozen yearly sub-zero weekends way up north, stoveside, hearing trees crack in the cold outside, with more friends than any man deserves; of a certain pizza place 517 and I frequented last winter, after Sundays on the slopes; of God knows how many perfect snowflakes caught and admired on black mittens over the span of thirty-some years; and always, always, a little wisp of Narnia, of a sleigh by a lamp-post, tracks in the snow, and the uneasy presence of magic.

Don’t come to the Smallish State in November. It will just seem dreary to you. Unless, of course, you can smell the snow coming.

3 Comments:

Blogger SEAMONKEY said...

Oooh. That post was very snowflake-like itself: clear, well-formed, lovely, its edges melting away from one's hand before quite being grasped. I like it!

11/20/06, 7:21 PM  
Anonymous gt said...

sweet post.

11/21/06, 9:27 AM  
Blogger Katinka said...

Absolutely beautiful...

We just had our first snowfall today here in BC, and watching the flakes swirling lightly like manna from the sky, and listening to the stillness never fails to enchant me. That was one of clinchers behind why I moved to Canada so many years ago, and it still holds the same magic.

11/25/06, 12:37 AM  

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