Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Winter and Seasons and Whimsy

So. It finally snowed in Utah. Bill Bryson notes that native Alaskans have fifty words for snow: "crunchy snow, soft snow, fresh snow, and old snow, but no word that just means snow." This is a wet snow on top of a crunchy, icy snow. I wonder if there's a word for that. When I skied regularly, I was much more attuned to the quality of snow. Now I think of it more in terms of shoveling: wet snow is a lot heavier! 
I think I'm happy about the snow. We've had the mildest weather. We've had days where we couldn't stop talking about how mild it was: "Can you believe this weather?" And I enjoyed those mild days when we normally are shivering in our brief forays outside. But I think a part of me missed winter, too. Missed the idea of a season of winter. Growing up in Alaska, we had all the seasons. One of them was a lot longer than the others, but we had them all. In Washington, winter was mostly rainy (although we did have a huge snowfall one year, the last big one before the one that just hit!). So when we moved to Utah, I looked forward to four seasons again. 

Now, finally, winter is here. It's lovely outside (I tried to get more pictures but for some reason they are sideways?!). I love the contrast of the white snow piled so carefully along the dark brown limbs of the bare trees that line my yard and the streets I drive. Everything looks so fresh and new. When the snow was falling the first night, the flakes were so big I tried to take a picture of that, too. Again, sideways! But the air seemed full of cotton puffs floating past the street lamps. Picture perfect. 

But now is also a different reality: It's slippery. There is ice under the snow, and I'm very conscious of falling. And, before we know it, this lovely white will be scraped up in piles alongside roads and driveways. It will turn the grey color of old snow. And it will be tipped with brown thrown up from sanded streets and car exhaust. It will be ugly and we will wish for spring. . . and then we will be eager for summer. . . and then we will wait for fall to turn leaves. . . and then we will watch for new snow to fall. It occurs to me that we are somewhat whimsical about seasons. We are mostly waiting for the next one, for what is not what we have now. I am back to my word of the year: Present. I don't want to wish for the snow to melt just yet. I want to enjoy the beauty of it today. 

My grand-daughter loves the snow (her brother hates for it to touch his snow pants or boots, so he only walks where it's been shoveled well). I am going to love the snow, too. Even when it's gray and brown. I will remember what it was when it was young. 


  1. Present...a good word for the year. I love the sky in your first photo and the rosy cheeks in the second. :)
    Thanks for writing today,

  2. You said you had trouble with other photos, but these are just right, defining winter in two different ways. I liked the meanderings about the snow & weather. I live in Colorado & we have much the same kind of weather. It snowed a little today & will be in the 50's tomorrow! What I like about the snow is the crystalline quality, the shine-so pretty; & the crunch, so memorable. Thanks for the telling of your adventure with the snow.

  3. Your snow photo is gorgeous! Thank you for sharing so much on this post.