Silent and Peaceful, the First Snowfall

Children in the glory of a winter snowfall. Photograph: Mary Kathryn Johnson.
Children running in the glory of a winter snowfall. Photograph: Mary Kathryn Johnson.

The first white wafer drifts slow past my gaze.  I sense the intricate design that makes it unique and beautiful, although I cannot see the elaborate curlicues and arabesques.  But, that first snowflake seems to me like a harbinger to a lovely snowfall on this winter morning.

In moments, there are streamers of snow falling from the leaden sky.  The flakes begin to garb the hills and woods with an ermine shawl.  So silent, so peaceful and serene, this first snowfall.  There is a deep hush from the high bluffs to the pond, a hush that blends beauty with art, the art that will fill a blank canvas before day is done.

Jory Sherman
Jory Sherman

A few birds flit past, antic before the storm, and there is a squirrel scurrying at the base of an oak tree, looking somewhat bewildered.  He leaves tiny handprints in the fresh snow.

Soon, the snow thickens until it forms a shredded curtain of white everywhere I look.  And, the quiet deepens with every soft tink of a snowflake on a rusted tincan left over from a summer long past, just at the edge of the little pond.

It is cold, but somehow the snow seems to warm me. There is no breeze, so no chill in the still morning air.  I walk to my road and down to the house.  There is a face at the window.  Two faces. Then, three.

My wife and two of our children are inside the living room, gazing outward at the snowfall.  I wave and they wave back.  They smile.  I smile and brush the cool white dust from my nose and cheeks.

I look back at the woods and the towering ramparts of the bluffs.  White ground, as if some unseen worm had spun silk over the land, a satiny sheen that sparkles as if tiny jewels were embedded on the snowy fabric.

There is magic here in this delicate and soundless world of silence and whiteness.  The magic of a season when the battered and scarred earth takes on a smooth countenance that is like the portrait of a lovely lady, a graceful wedding gown draping her form.

I wait outside.  I do not want to leave this wonderland that grows around me.  It is too precious to abandon just now.  There is enough wonder in me to keep me warm a while longer.

I know the snow will pile up during the long night and when the wind comes up, it will form comely drifts that add unexpected hillocks on the smooth white landscape.

And I am lost in a wintry reverie for those last few moments under veils of snow.

The land is beautiful.  Just beautiful and I am in awe, speechless as stone.

For all my words would be muffled if I tried to explain it.  For the snowfall just is and there is no explanation that will capture what it means to me.. What it means to the earth.

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  • Caleb Pirtle

    I don’t winter, Jory. I can read your story and, even during a hot Texas summer, I would be able to feel the cold and see the beauty of a snowfall in the mountains. Beautifully written.

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