Masking the ordinary

The first snowflakes fall soft in the dark morning, wet and heavy and hitting like raindrops on my windshield.

They fall soft all day, coating branches and filling footprints in previous snowfalls, one clinging to another. Gentle bush branches bow low to the ground under the whiteness.

It’s not that cold when I get home so I change out of work clothes and pull on boots and step out.

And it’s not the first snowfall by far but I think it’s the prettiest and the quiet old street is a different world.

It always feels quieter when there’s snow falling, and the air seems to take on a white glow of its own. This snow, soft and wet, clings to pine needles and the tip of the light post and the dying, brittle stem of the rosemary I forgot to bring in.

A black lab barks at the back door of a neighbor’s house, and I hear someone let him in. A UPS truck rattles by. But still the ordinary has become otherworldly in the white afternoon.

I look out the kitchen window into the snow-dusted hedge, and the old shed – the one with the sagging roof and the trash bags tossed inside – is something beautiful.

Snow falls into my boot when I walk down the covered path between the hedge and the house. And it’s strange to look at this new hedge and wonder at the difference a little clinging snow makes.

That bush, the one with the bare branches — I cut a few for a fall boutique in October; it grows hard purple leaves and bright red berries and sharp thorns that tear at your hands. But the leaves have fallen and the birds that stay dry in the hedge have devoured the berries and the snowflakes cover the thorns in a softening blanket.

That hedge I sheared for hours, cutting and trimming and cutting some more, but I never could tame it. It’s all the more untamed now, but it looks like it should be; standing as silent guards over the old shed.

Even the garage door looks inviting, like there might be something worth finding on the other side, when it’s framed by that tree with its clusters of snow berries.

And my hands are cold now and the flakes are melting on the camera’s screen and I trudge back in my own footsteps, up the snowy walk to my own front door.

Inside it’s dark, with curtains drawn against the cold. But I pause to look out again at that other world.

I hate the cold, and I dream of warm sun and green grass and the flowers that appear all over town come April. But there’s no denying that even the most normal, the most mundane, becomes something new and beautiful under a fresh snowfall.





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