Is there anything more delightful than first snow?
Ours arrived, an unassigned holiday inserted into the calendar, in the early morning of Friday January 7. I slept late and woke to a pixelated sky descending over the earth with lazy ease. No traffic noise. No children shuffling to school. My muscles loosened at the generous gift that little—actually nothing—would be expected of anyone today.
I watched accumulation on the deck railing: six inches; eight; as I devoured a pot of steel oats gussied up with leftover holiday cream plus cranberries, walnuts, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Basically: liquid cookies. The hearty oats stuck to my ribs all day.
By noon the snow had dwindled to flurries, so I tugged on my LL Bean boots and took to the shovel. I like to shovel, especially snow fluffy as this. The rhythm of scrape, hoist, and toss. The quietude of the city draped in a shroud.
City dwellers are disinclined to visit in each other’s homes. The measured distance between our interiors and whatever’s passing by is too small to afford causal drop-ins. In my thirty years here I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been inside any of my neighbor’s houses. But we often encounter one another after a snow. We all have reason to be out. We are all working hard. Though we are not in a rush, so chat breaks are welcome.
I like to make it easy for pedestrians to traverse my domain, so I take care to shovel the full width of my sidewalk and clear away hard clods the street plows deposit on my busy corner. With responsible citizen duty done, I head out for a walk myself.
I relish meandering the city after a snowstorm. Property owners have a dozen hours to clear their walks; during the period of patchy clearing pedestrians claim side streets right down the middle. Though cars are surprisingly few; we are surprisingly many. Couples stroller their babies. Parents with school-age children tote discs to the hill at Fresh Pond. (Flexible Flyers seem to be curiosities of history.) Car owners brush off their hoods and fenders, and then dig under their wheels. “That looks like fun,” I observe as a woman with a long broom sweeps the top of her Subaru with balletic grace. “The first snow is always fun!” She smiles.
Her words are so true. The first snow is always the most fun, especially when it arrives with the morning, bestows a free day upon us all, and dissipates in time for a veil of sun to kick off the melt.
Each successive snow will be a bit less fun; a lot more hassle. Winter grinds long and cold. Which is why it’s so important to savor first snow and hold it dear in memory.