First Snow

My uncle is visiting.  Every pub we tried to go to yesterday evening was absolutely crammed to the rafters.  Not surprising on a cold Saturday night, but still we soldiered on in search of elbow room at the bar and possibly, with luck, a place to sit down.  I’m not even going to tell you the name of the place we ended up, because it’s not very busy on a Saturday despite being rather a cool place to hang out, and if I tell you, you’ll all start going there.  (All three of you.)  I cannot be having with that.

This place happens to be underground in a sort of vault-like situation.  For this reason, we were at first unaware of the snow.  When we emerged from the depths we saw the first dusting starting to stick to the ground.  I laughed with joy; it’s been ages since I’ve seen snow.

By the time we’d walked most of the way to my house it was already sticking an inch deep, nearly two in some places.  I couldn’t resist going out for a walk snapping a few photos.  Everywhere people were out, squealing with laughter and playing in the snow.  On Cleveland Street grown men threw snowballs at each other outside a pub.  They looked sheepish as I walked by.  “We’re just bein’ a bit silly!”  But they needed to make no justification to me.  In Fitzroy Square the whole of the Indian YMCA appeared to be out making snowmen, sliding on the slick surface, trying to catch flakes on tongues.

I smiled as I heard the familiar yet long-unheard sound of snow creaking under my boots.  Such a peculiar sound.  Such a peculiar phenomenon, really.  Snow has the power to transform.  Even the most banal heap of neglected garbage bags ransacked to shreds by seagulls becomes a study of shape, of texture, of depth, of light and shadow, when snow catches at its folds in strangely alluring ways.

I realized then how much I miss snow.

In fact after a little reflection, I realized what I miss is the first snowfall of the season.  There is a kind of changeling process during the very first snowfall that truly transforms the world into a whole new place.  Once the snow’s already on the ground it acquires a sort of staidness–very pretty, but no longer like looking at the world completely anew, the way it is when the snow is  first falling.  I miss the sound of snow, its deeply contemplative silence as it falls and, as I mentioned, the creaking of snow underfoot.  I miss its texture and its slightly metallic taste.  But I only miss the sensation of these things as they are experienced for the very first time each winter.

This morning looking out on the ragged melting slush I also remember the inconvenience of snow, the planning required to deal with its effects, the tiresome bone-chilling cold of shoveling, the vigilance while driving, the inconvenience when walking.  I remember the endless gear needed to cope with snow, the piles of steaming wet winter clothes and boots muddying floors in winter.  I remember the ugly grey sludge it becomes in just a few days–sometimes hours.   Yes, those are things I do not miss.

But for all that, for all that–I do miss the joy of the first snow every year.