Friday, February 22, 2013
Morning Thanks--the snow
One of the blessings of living on the plains is that nothing really sneaks up on you, not even tornados. There's always heavenly hoopla first, just as there is for blizzards. You just know something's a'comin'. Out in the country, dark gray skies swarm in from somewhere in Nebraska. Like royalty, snowstorms are officially announced before they make their entries--that's what Ralph Waldo says.
Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hill and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farmhouse at the garden's end.
For forty years I tried to hector students into liking Emerson, and the campaign always began with "The Snowstorm," often, mid or late November, when just outside the window the grounds were mantled in the season's first snow. Didn't help. Mostly, those students kept their heads down, hoping I wouldn't call on them.
That Emerson's "Snowstorm" comes back to me just now isn't at all surprising because this morning, in ways I never could in all those forty years, I'm living those very lines. We're a little short on hills here, but the land isn't deadpan flat. Woods and river run just north and west, and the barn outback and the farmhouse itself is gorgeously veiled in a bright new quilt the edge of storm laid down through the night.
We escaped carnage. Kansas City got almost two feet. From the perfectly dapper snowcap on the stump just outside my window, I'm guessing there's six inches, max. But it's enough clean up the world for a few hours, covering everything with purity, a sinlessness that won't last, of course, but may well send me out back with a camera in a few hours. It's perfectly gorgeous and immensely still.
Morning traffic on the highway is almost nil, a few hearty souls and, now and then, a plow out and about. The tumult is over, the blizzard somewhere north and east. Last night, snow falling heavily, we watched way too many episodes of Downton Abbey, the fireplace glowing and crackling in what Emerson called "the tumultuous privacy of storm." Arizona and Florida have a great deal to offer Siouxlanders in February, but last night I wouldn't have traded places with anyone.
This morning the silence is profound, as if the world's ears were stopped with cotton.
In a while, I'll have to shovel, not my favorite thing to do; but right now, the night's darkness seems almost to glow outside every window, the thirsty land around us and absolutely everything on it dressed glowingly in the seasons's finest livery.
And it's beautiful, purely beautiful.