Monday, August 1, 2011

The secret life of snow

'The angels are having a pillow fight Mumma,' calls Neve, in a voice beckoning me to come see.

Drying my hands on a tea towel, I amble over to the sitting room window; a giant mouse summoned by a pint size Pied Piper. Neve is leaning against the back of the couch, her little hands propping up a face full of wonder. Her eyes sparkling like beach pebbles newly washed ashore. I sit down upon the armrest and loop an arm around her waist.

Outside, the streetlights luminate a stage dressed in white; the snow drifting silently before us like a mesmerising troupe of whirling dervishes, as we sit with our heads resting together like a pair of bookends.

'They look like feathers fluttering down to Earth. Don't they Mumma?' she speaks dreamily.

'They sure do, Honey. Those angels must be having one hellava fight up there, huh?' I squeeze my girl into me. She giggles with delight; my favourite sound in the whole world.

'Did you know that snow is a living thing?' says Neve.

'How so, Doll?' I reply, glancing down at her gappy toothed smile.

'Well,' she enthuses, 'today the snow is born and when it melts it dies,' she states, full of authority.

'Well, I'll be darned! You're right,' I tease with my hands on my hips. 'How about you give that snow some privacy while it's getting born and go brush your teeth!' She hops off the sofa and I pretend to growl at her like a big old bear, chasing her up the stairs with her dressing gown fanning outward like a phantom's cape.

I go back to the sink, and the mindless task of washing the dishes. I gaze out at the falling snow, contemplating my child's insight. Indeed, snow does seem to be a living thing. When born, it is new, fresh and light. Everyone loves it, young and old; it can not be helped; hours can be lost just gazing at it. Eventually people start wondering about its future...will it still be there in the morning? How long will it stick around? Will it cause much destruction? How high will the snow pile grow?
Once it stops falling though, we are left with the reality of it - a messy mass, that won't clean up after itself.

Later on, as it dies, the once crisp white, fluffy snow; once so pliable; so enchanting; so delightful in our hands, turns grey, and kind of decays into a slushy, muddy, repulsive slop. It is not fun anymore and we wish it would hurry up and soak into the ground so our lives can return to normal.

I look out at the pretty snow, falling passively and gently in erractic swirls, and consider it unfortunte that many will soon be cursing this little gift from nature - the secret life of snow.

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