Calm and serene: the other side of snow
SHEPHERDSTOWN — The interrupting side of snow. After week-upon-week of cancellations and delays caused by what many would say is ill-timed snow, our patience with cranky Mother Nature has worn dangerously thin.
Shovel it. Wash the car to get the grayish abrasive off it. Slop through it as it turns to slush and then back to ice at night. Drive at your own risk. When is enough enough, Mother Nature?
Fortunately, there is another side to the powdery substance that can change 30-foot fir trees into goddesses of feathery beauty, and bring an almost eerie calm to a small patch of woods.
Find a narrow entrance to what was, before the snow, an ordinary space of woods, briars and honeysuckle.
Enter and be pleasantly surprised by the quiet greeting and welcoming you to its home.
Smile in awe at the snow clinging to the leafless branches of the monarchs of this place. The ash trees. The tulip poplars. The proud maples. All holding a covering of white splendor close to what were bare branches.
The shrubs are like white-painted sculptures. The rock outcroppings are almost devoid of shape, after disappearing under the mantle of snow.
The only sounds come from the creaking tree branches as they seem to communicate in whispers with each other.
After the front that brought on the snow has moved elsewhere, the vision of clean blue sky is a welcome change from the white owning the ground and plant life.
And always there is the quiet.
Fir trees bow low to the snow embracing their needled branches.
Birch trees with the mottled white bark almost disappear, as if playing hide-and-seek.
Underfoot is a thin glaze of ice masking the puddles of water where birds and other creatures drink in the winter silence.
Even though the snow only quit its almost-daily act, there are tracks to see. Some birds that haven’t evacuated the area have hopped about in hopes of finding some exposed seeds or other frosted morsels. And then there’s a cardinal, a stark difference in his bright red plumage from the powdered snow. A blue jay all but shrieks his presence and the peppery chickadees dance through the limbs cheerily calling to one and all.
Other short-strided tracks could have been made by a bouncy squirrel or a rabbit wanting some grass or remnant of a summer plant.
You’ll notice the mud and blunt-gray colors of winter are gone, covered now and the ground impatiently waiting for the colors of lady slippers, the first wild flowers or the tender green buds of some shrubs.
And always the quiet.
After you have captured the moments and brought the purpose of nature to your being, remember to collect some of the newly fallen snow to make “snow ice cream” with its additions of vanilla and some sugar.
When taking your leave of the tract of peace, take a moment to rejoice in the “other” side of any snowfall.