Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Thursday Thirteen Thoughts about the First Snowfall

Snow doesn’t happen very often down here in the Southwest. We see snow two or three times during the winter, and it usually starts right after Christmas. It is early this year; our first snowfall was last night when the huge cold front moved in on us.

I’ve noticed that people speak differently about snow, depending on where they live. When we Southwesterners speak of this event, we say “the first snow was early this year.” We know it won’t stay long, and it may or may not happen again this year. My son who lives in the Frozen North has adopted the habit, like other Frozen-Northerners, of saying he hopes to get something done, like bringing in the firewood to the basement, “before the snow flies.”

Thirteen thoughts about snow, whether it “falls” or “flies”:

1. First, it rained hard yesterday for about an hour and a half—a good ol’-fashioned, all-out thunderstorm. (But, actually, I wrote this last Thursday.)

2. Thank you, Lord! It has been very dry for several months, and our trees and bushes will be more protected against the freezing weather. Also, people here are still nervous about fires, after what happened last year—an unusual number of huge brushfires that destroyed many crops and homes.

3. All day, in anticipation of the cold, I had been trying to water my mother’s yard as much as possible. I couldn’t get back to her house to turn off the water before the rain began, so three sprinklers were going full blast in the rain. I got pretty wet slogging around the house to turn them off. And I feared being struck by lightening, with my metal-handled umbrella in my hand! It was crashing all around.

4. During the night, a couple of inches of snow fell, and it has continued snowing most of the day—big, fluffy flakes. School was called off, so I am staying home. (Yea!)

5. Sometimes I can’t tell if it is still snowing because clouds of snow blow off the roof.

6. The ground is still very warm, so it melts slowly, underneath. The roads are passable. But toward the end of the day, ice will form, making driving dangerous. It is a good thing schools are cancelled, because people here in the Southwest don’t know how to drive on ice and snow—even in rain, in some places.

7. Our 6-year-old grandson, who has gotten very good at reading lately, called last night and read us the weather report for the week, here and in the Frozen North where his uncle and aunt live. He likes to keep an eye on the weather for everybody.

8. Little bits of green grass poke up here and there in the snow; soon they’ll turn brown.

9. Bright red cardinals and their tan ladies show up to eat the cat food and to scratch around in the snow under the trees and bushes. A red cardinal in the snow reminds me of a Christmas card we got last year.

10. Blue birds with orange breasts forage, along with the cardinals. Maybe these are migratory birds; I don’t know what kind they are, although I have seen them before. I have a bird book, but right now, I am too lazy to open it. Next time I go out, I must buy some sunflower seeds and put out the bird feeder.

11. I remember that when I was four years old, my father helped me build a snowman for the first time. We used a wooden Coke box as a base, to make him taller. I chattered away like a happy little bird; he didn’t say much, but he smiled a lot.

12. When my daughter was about three, she and I built a snowman. We put a toboggan and a heavy scarf on him, to keep him warm. She loved it. Her little button nose and chubby cheeks were red with the cold, and her dark eyes sparkled. When her brothers came along, we all built snowmen every year.

13. A few years after my father died, my mother and her next-door neighbor built a huge snow-woman. She had big bosoms, a wide-brimmed hat, an apron, and a shawl.

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