Saturday, December 19, 2009

The winter snow of December 2009

First the stiletto of sleet hitting the frost covered windows. I opened my eyes to see the silhouette of the bamboo still standing tall. Snuggling down in the blankets I pondered the thought of not getting up.

I had watched the snowfall illuminated by the streetlight. A light powdering at first, then mixed with rain it covered the yard and street like a sugar cookie coating.

Before bed, I checked the street again. A foot of white stuff covered every fence post, branch and scrub. The pace of the flakes was steady showing no sign of slowing, so I retired to a night of strange dreams.

The sound of chain saws broke the morning silence. Listening for vehicle traffic sounds I pulled the covers around my neck. I heard men yelling to one another then the sound of a large truck, similar to the Monday morning trash truck. Power! I’ve lost power! The trees must have brought down a power line.

Sliding on the dust and dirt pass the gap in the wall. The bathroom reassured me the water was running and not from the ceiling. Flipping the light switch confirmed the lack of electricity.

I stepped out to view the same sight from last night scaring several doves who I spoke to reassuring my invasion of their dry spot. All winter quiet except from my next-door neighbor uncovering her car. “Where was she going?” I pondered in the early frost.

Lacing up my boots, I applied two sweatshirts and sat with a cold bottle of water next to the heater sitting silent in the dull gray light coming through filtered windows.

The sound of the battery driven clock sings a constant duo with the water drips in the bathroom. A plane flies over showing life exist elsewhere.

I checked my cell and see it’s battery has run down with no way to recharge it. I place it on the drawing table with no communication.

Now this is camping.

With a bottle of cold water and a bowl of fruit, I decide what I can do in these conditions.

I could go back to bed? Maybe later.

There is enough light to read or write long hand on paper. Imagine the sound of a pen scratching on paper or turning a page in a book.

But I need to explore this snow-covered neighborhood with my camera in hand.

I must feed the critters that have huddled through the night without electricity or blankets. Good thing I got extra seed yesterday.

I have batteries for the radio, but am enjoying the total quiet.

So I wander out into the yard to access the wonder of global warming up to my shins with a child’s laughter in the background.

The adventure begins at 10:30 and the snow is still falling.

Step-by-step digging into the deep powder ducking under the bowing branches, I see the few dry spots the birds have cuddled in. The pond is frozen and the umbrella in the table on the deck has broken under the weight of the snow.

I spread some seed out into the dry areas for the critters then start toward the alley.
Prying open the gate enough to squeeze into the untouched white wonderland, I see Virginia Power trucks at both ends of the block working on the power problem.

I notice a sidewalk is scraped. As I continue the clean path I speak to the neighbor shoveling the thick powder. We laugh about the power outage and the need to get out and exercise. He continues to shovel and I walk into the street in narrow paths made by the vehicle machines.

Slowly walking down the slush paths that I know will freeze over tonight, I snap a few shots of the neighborhood in the white painting.

I stop and watch children and dogs play in the winter wonderment. This is what snow is all about.

A black dog that showed enjoyment in the icy covering, with no fear, stopped my walk and only fun, he leaped and galloped over drifts shoveling up the mixture and throwing it into the air.

I watched two young lads dragging sleds up a hill I normally travel and smile as the excitement they are about to meet.

I step into the depth to make way for a young women walking in the opposite direction. A pleasant greeting and a smile caring a cup of hot cocoa from the beauty created internal warmth.

Sliding into the convenience store for the afternoon’s relaxation, I noticed the people who had also wandered out.

Reversing my path, I too wandered back to the abode hoping power was restored.

Passing a path clearing pink face man, who asked if the mall was open, I replied I had not ventured that far. He thanked me and continued down a side street, shovel over his shoulder.

Increased traffic of 4-wheel vehicles that thought they could manage the icy streets splashed by.

Another young lass knocking snow off her scrubs acknowledged the conditions with a smile and pleasant conversation.

The plumber down the block welcomed me and stated it was not good biking weather, a statement I laughed and waved at.

The Virginia Power trucks were pulling out as I arrived to the alley, with waves of appreciation of their work.

Settling down and drying off, the power was on and the little heater was pumping as hard as it could the small warm area.

A cup of barley soup and some popcorn filled the afternoon with a funny video DVD that will be passed on to a couple in the coming months.

Then the power went out again.

Standing by the window.

Though not late enough for bed, I stood looking through the fractured gaze window at the lights across the street. “They had power?”

I stood for an hour watching the lights of cars sliding down the street, listening to a party down the block and seeing the flash of lights moving. It was like some drug experience, but there were no drugs. This was just what one does with no light, power, heat in the middle of a pre-winter storm.

After my eyes adjusted to the dark, I walked from window to window grasping each view with amazement. One window has an air-conditioner allowing cold air in. Another window is open to provide an extension cord to wind from the house to the “little house” giving light and power.

Yet another window only shows the bent trees and snow covered trestles giving shelter to the yard critters.

Standing at the window, there is light and motion in the alley and down the hall light flashes on.

There is something special about being alone (I mean really alone) on a night like this. There is a quiet and solitude beyond what we as beings can’t escape, but we avoid.

There seems to be a constant noise in our lives from outside or internal sources except when it snows.

So stop and enjoy it.

This is PEACE.

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